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FAQs about Refugium Media, Substrates, Deep Sand Beds (DSBs)

Related Articles: Get Thee To A Refugium by Bob Fenner, Refugia: What They're For And How To Build Them by Forrest Phillips, Reef Systems, Reef Set-Up, Reef Filtration, Marine System Plumbing, Fish-Only Marine Set-up, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, Refugiums, Macroalgae,

Related FAQs: Substrate: Rationale, Selection, Reef Substrates, Cleaning, Replacing/Adding To, Deep Sand Beds, Refugium Substrates/DSBs, Live Sand, & Mud Filtration 1, Biofiltration, Nitrates, Aquascaping, Sand Sifters for Marine Systems, Mud Filtration 1, Mud Filtration 2, Refugiums 1, Refugiums 2, Refugiums 3, Refugiums 4, Refugiums 5, Refugiums 6, Refugiums 7, Refugiums 8, Refugiums 9, Refugiums 10, Refugiums 11, Refugiums 12, Refugiums 13, Refugiums 14, Refugium Rationale, Design, Construction, Hang-on types, Pumps/Circulation, Lighting, Operation, Algae, Livestock, & Caulerpa, Marine System Plumbing, Holes & Drilling 1, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing Noise, Make Up Water Systems, Marine Aquarium Set-Up, Micro-Crustaceans, Amphipods, Copepods, Mysids, Algal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1,

Use of substrates can increase the utility of a refugium many-fold

live rock in refugium                  ‏            11/9/14
What benefit is there to having live rock in one's refugium (along with plants) if you already have live rock in main reef?
<Just more nitrification, denitrification, food production, nitrate et al. uptake... helps more as it (the LR) is not in the presence of predators>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Adding Old Sand to New Tank's Refugium      7/27/13
Hi Crew,  I have just recently, successfully I think, moved everyone from my 80 gallon (to be converted to freshwater) to my new 120 gallon aquarium.
 My question is, can I use the old sand in the new refugium?
  The sand is in the old aquarium, under water, but has had no water movement or filtration for about a week now.  My concern is that the sand has "died" and will cause the new tank to recycle.
<It may... I would thoroughly wash (freshwater) this old sand and sprinkle a few pounds of new live sand atop it; or really better, some few pounds of very fresh live rock... To inoculate the old>
 I considered rinsing the sand but if it hasn't died I would be wasting lots of good stuff.   What about adding a cup or two a day to the refugium?
<You could do this>
My reason for letting it go this long is that I had already put several inches of crushed coral/shells in the bottom of the refugium.
<I'd remove this and place it on top of the old (washed) sand>
 I had planned to just discard the old sand but since I still see copepods, snails, and small stars still living in the tank I feel kind of bag throwing them away.  Should I remove the crushed coral or can I put the old sand on top? 
<As above>
 Thank you for your time.  Connie
<Welcome; oh, do please read here:
and the linked files in series (above). Bob Fenner>
Re: Adding Old Sand to New Tank's Refugium      7/27/13

Mr. Fenner, Thank you very much.  Connie
<Certainly welcome Connie. BobF>

RDSM Refugium Question, design f'       9/24/12
Hello again Crew,
It has been awhile since I've needed your expert advise but I find myself, again, at a loss on the best way to approach the addition of a refugium to my system.  My tank is a 125 gallon with a 20 gallon wet/dry sump.  I took the media out of the sump a couple of years ago so it's really just a sump with a filter and live rock rubble.  I would like to add a RDSB/Refugium to my tank.  I will be going possible 30/40 gallons more and the refugium will be midway between my sump and my tank.  Pumped from the main display then gravity fed to the sump.  I would like to split the refugium to have one area a RDSB because
I do tend to have high nitrates, and another area to grow some macroalgae.
<Both can be done in the same area>
 My question is two-fold really.  The live sand in my tank at this point is teaming with all sorts of critters, it's just a critterfest at lights off however the sand is in the danger zone...1 1/2 " to roughly 2 1/2 " deep now.  When I incorporate the RDSB do I still need to worry about building the sand up inside the main display as well or leave it be?
<I'd remove the present substrate when you are going to switch to the larger sump/fuge and place the olde on top of the new>
  I would like to have the lights on the macroalgae area of my refugium be on opposite of my main display to help with the nightly Ph drop.  I'm concerned the ambient room light will hurt the DSB and deter the Ph balance. 
<The lighting won't do this... both will be fine>
Any thoughts?  Thank you again.  Jill
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Wet/Dry Conversion 2/19/12
After reading about how bad bioballs are for nitrates and how good DSB's are for reducing them, I decided to convert my wet/dry. See the attached picture. I want to block off the left side of my wet/dry and put a 10"-12" bed of sand and let it overflow to the right side
<I take it the apparent break in the wall is a display error>
where I have a Remora Pro hang on skimmer, heater and the return pump. Do you think this is a good plan or will there be too much turbulence for the sand bed?
<Should work... as long as you can dissipate the flow into the DSB area (maybe a "drip tray" or such)>
My tank is a 92 Gallon Corner Bow with about 90lbs of live rock. I currently have a small blue tang, yellow tang, two clarkii clowns, a bi-color blenny and a blue damsel.
Thanks for your advice,
<Welcome. You might want to peruse here:
the second tray. Bob Fenner>

Sump/Refugium + Fluval 205 question 1/11/12
<Hello Earl>
I value your opinion, gentleman, so here is my question. I have a 36 gallon corner tank, 35 pounds of live rock, 4 small fish, about 12 coral frags, and I am putting in a DYI 10 gallon sump with a small refugium, because that's all I have room for. My son used his computer/laser to cut out the panels for the baffles, it looks professional. I am putting this in because I was told that a canister filter would turn into a nitrate factory and I should take it out.
<Only if the floss/pads aren't cleaned/replaced weekly.>
My nitrates did go up so I removed the filter.
<Nitrates will go up in any system if dissolved nutrients aren't exported out of the system.>
I have an AquaMaxx HOB1 protein skimmer that I am using on the tank right now, but plan to hang it on the intake compartment of the sump. In talking with another reefer, they told me that I can run the canister (Fluval 205) if I use it for carbon only and leave the pads out, in addition to the sump for added filtration.
<Without pads the carbon will plug quickly. Best to use a pad and change/clean weekly.>
I thought this sounded good but I thought I would ask you since you are much more educated in the hobby than myself. Does this sound reasonable?
<The refugium is a good idea. As to the other issues, re above.>
I was also wondering at what level nitrate can get to to start becoming dangerous to my tank.
<For a fish only system I'd keep below 30 but that depends on the fish you are keeping. Some fish do not appreciated nitrate levels much above 10ppm.>
I know a 0 level is ideal but according to my chart the most it has gotten to is 20, API test kit.
<Actually, zero nitrates is not ideal. Best to have a low level (10ppm) of nitrates in the system if keeping corals/clams, etc. James (Salty Dog)>

Refugium along with a RP3 filtration system? 12/18/11
Dear WWM -
First off, thank you so much for such a wonderful and rich website!
I started my 55 Gallon FOWLR tank over 4 years ago (just about when my son was born and he loves it today!). I started the tank with live sand (about 2 inches deep) and about 50 lbs of live rock. Everything is as clean as can be and Nitrates have always been 0 and holding after the cycle period of about 3 months.
A couple years ago, I started adding Coral to the tank and soon I will have to start fragging to keep the growth in check.
Overall a very successful enterprise so far (thanks in large part to your web site and a ton of luck).
<Plus your efforts>
I always wanted to add a refugium, but could not for a long time because of time commitments and obviously cost. I have a 30 gallon DIY refugium built and water tested for the past 3 weeks and everything is good! I have incorporated a flow valve to it - the type that usually is used to auto top off but in this case will work to stop the water into the fuge. I thought it would add an extra layer of protection along with the overflow placed in the main tank so that not more than 15 gallons will flow in to the fuge.
<It will>
The question is this: I have slowly over time upgraded everything on the system including adding a RP3 to the system,
<Tom product; a wet-dry>
I would definitely want to keep that running along with the newly added refugium. Is it ok to have extra filtration running as well as the refugium?
Lighting is a Wavepoint high output with T5s, upgraded when I started thinking about Coral (change bulbs every 9 months or so).
Also, since I saved money on the fuge, I was wondering if I should "splurge" on Fiji Mud for the fuge along with Chaeto? Or can I just more LS? Will Chaeto be ok on the sand.
<All these choices are possible; can be done, mixed>
I saw that you mention that either the mud or the sand is ok depending on who you ask, but since this fuge is going to be an additional layer of filtration along with hopefully growing pods for food, I was wondering if one or the other is better.
<"It depends" on the rest of the make-up of the system, the flow rate through the area... Fine to experiment, see what works best for you here>
Sorry for the long email and thanks so much for everything you do.
<Again, welcome. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Here are the critters in the tank:
1 Percula Clown
2 Green Chromis
1 Yellow Tang
1 Coral Beauty
1 Yellow faced Sand sifting goby
1 mini carpet anemone
Pink Zoos (started as an inch frag, now completely enveloped a rock)
Orange Zoos (don't know what I will do with so many of them, luckily there is still a lot of space)
Green Mushrooms (started with 3, now about 20)
Orange bubble coral
a few blue legged hermits
4 red legged hermits
a few Astrea snails
a couple turbo snails (see their egg lines on the tank a bunch of times)

Help With Refugium (Blackened Sand) -- 10/12/11
Hi guys and gals,
<<Hey Andrew>>
Hoping you can help.
<<Will try>>
I have a close-to-300 G reef system, with a 150 G display, 56 G refugium and the rest spread over 2 sumps. My fuge has been operational for about 2 years now, and has a DSB of about 6 inches (started with 8 or so), Chaetomorpha algae, and a couple of sizeable pieces of live rock that are just crawling with Xenia.
<<Ah yes'¦an 'absorption' feeder>>
I have been very pleased with my fuge, until lately. For about 3 weeks now, it is accumulating Cyano even though the main tank is clear,
<<Not anything unusual given the collection/settlement of detritus here>>
I have just replaced my fuge lights and just increased circulation in there as well. Today, when I was vacuuming up some of the Cyano, the hose dug a little too deeply, and sucked up a bunch of sand. In doing so, I discovered that just under the sand was a large patch of black sand.
<<Again, not unusual'¦in my experience>>
Even though I don't smell anything, I fear that this could be sulfur.
<<Maybe, but you certainly should have been able to smell it'¦this is likely just the result of the anoxic/anaerobic environment'¦and part of what helps a DSB 'do its thing'>>
I quickly covered the sand back up (not sure if that helped any) and then took the fuge off line.
<<Was unnecessary>>
I was planning to re-do the fuge over the next 6 months, once I get my new inline 90 G frag tank with DSB working, however, this is not yet ready. I don't know whether to plug it back in or drain it completely and start fresh.
<<I would hook up/keep using the 'fuge'¦unless it has been offline long enough to go sour>>
My display tank is well stocked, and I would hate for things to spoil because of something noxious escaping from the fuge.
<<Of little concern in my estimation. I just completed a 'redo' of my 500g reef system where I disturbed a very large DSB (some 2,000+ lbs of sugar-fine aragonite), exposing/moving both blackened patches of sand and blackened buried rock'¦all with no consequence to the tanks inhabitants which have been in the system during the entire process>>
I also worry about not having the de-nitrifying benefits of my fuge for any length of time,
because like I said the display is well stocked and I not-so-long ago recovered from a pretty bad algae bloom. Sorry for the scattered thoughts,
<<No worries>>
but it's late, I'm crazy busy at work right now, and I just can't afford this headache tonight. You guys (and gals) are great in terms of your knowledge/experience and your capacity to help, and I am hoping you have some calming advice for me right now.
<<I don't feel you had anything to fear from the refugium re the blackened sand'¦and hopefully you didn't 'let it die' when you took if off-line from the display>>
Thanks again. Andrew
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
Re Help With Refugium (Blackened Sand) -- 10/12/11

Thanks for your help.
<<Quite welcome Andrew>>
Although I took it off line, I put a heater and powerhead in the fuge so things should still be ticking.
<<Ah! Excellent>>
Although I panicked, I'm not that irresponsible.
<<And I didn't intend to imply such'¦some folks just don't think about or have the equipment on hand to run an independent system on the spur-of-the-moment, as it were. Glad you had the foresight to keep it going!>>
After all it still contains life!
<<Indeed! Cheers'¦ EricR>>

Refugium Mud Gone Wrong 1/31/11
Hello fellow fish folk,
<Hello Jason>
I am having a problem with my refugium and the mud. I put the mud in the refugium and packed it on the bottom. I waited for a few hours for the sump to clear up and started the return pump. The tank was cloudy for a few hours. Few days later I added some Chaeto algae. The algae rolls around in the refugium part of the sump. It looks like the mud is being brushed up by the algae and is putting mud particles in my tank again and the tank is extremely cloudy again.(3 hours later I can barely see the back part of my
tank) I've gotten the algae to not move but I'm worried this will be repeated. Is this common? Did I not pack the mud hard enough? Any ideas?
Should the mud fluff up like this?
<It will if disturbed, yes>
I'm thinking of moving to some aragonite substrate instead since I can't see in my tank.
<Try just a shallow covering of coarser sand over the mud to see if this helps, otherwise you will have to re-think your strategy. You could anchor the Chaeto with a rock to stop it tumbling (it does not have to tumble), or you could switch to a macro that has roots instead>
Thanks for your help,
<No problem>

Re: Refugium Mud Gone Wrong 2/1/11
Hey Simon,
<Hello Jason>
Thanks for your help.
<No problem>
Just a couple extra questions. On your site at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_3/refugiums.html the article says Chaeto should tumble (Optimal flow rate depends on what you want the refugium to do. If you are looking at culturing Chaetomorpha algae then you have to have sufficient flow to make it tumble, otherwise your results will be disappointing. If I attach it or some how make it not tumble how much of an negative effect will it have if any, how disappointing will it be.
<The top will grow more quickly than the bottom, with a light green colour indicating the newer growth. With good lighting in the 10K range it will still grow very quickly and will not disappoint. You can turn it every now and again if you like. Very few people grow this algae and actually manage to keep it 'tumbling', so don't worry>
If I go the other route and cover the mud with something would aragonite sand/live be a good choice and if so how thick would be good. 1/4 inch, 1/2 a inch or maybe a full inch?
<1/2 inch should be fine>
Would this make the mud not work as efficiently and would it be worth it to keep the mud.
<This should work just fine, and yes keep the mud by all means>
And lastly if I'm doing this so the Chaeto grows and eats nitrates and grow a few copepods is mud the right choice or is no substrate or aragonite live sand a better choice.
<A combination of substrate including mud/ sand/ rock/ algae is best for culturing micro-organisms in your refuge. Have you perused Bob and Anthony's' Reef Invertebrates'?>
Thanks again,
<No problem at all>
P.S. Can coral or clams etc die from a tank gone cloudy from refugium mud?
<Not unless it is over such a protracted period that it blocks out the light or causes other problems, no. Simon>

What To Fill My Refugium With/Refugiums 11/24/10
<Hello Sal>
I'm sure you guys are busy answering emails so I'll get right to the point.
I have a 90 gallon tank which is 36" x 24' x24". So basically, I'm trying to figure out what to do with my refugium section in my sump. This section is 10" long by 16" deep by 12" high. I want to fill it with 6" of live sand and algae or 1" of Miracle Mud and algae. I'm leaning toward using 6" of oolitic aragonite because of nitrate reduction and dissolution of aragonite for minerals. I just don't know if this small area is enough to do that. In my experience, the dissolution of aragonite is great for corals.
Since I don't have a sand bed in my Display,
<No substrate at all?>
I was wondering if this 10 x 16 area of my sump would be enough.
Would it be a better idea to just use the Miracle Mud and some algae to promote algae growth and crustaceans because of the limitation of space?
Any help is appreciated.
<My choice would be the Walt Smith Fiji Mud. Buffer and calcium supplements will need to be added occasionally to maintain parameters.
Aragonite doesn't dissolve fast enough to maintain parameters without the need for supplements. See here.
James (Salty Dog)>
Re What To Fill My Refugium With/Refugiums 11/24/10
Thanks for ur response James.
<You're welcome, Sal.>
There is just enough sand to cover the bottom of the aquarium in my tank.
So, are u <Please, no text type messaging.>
saying that my 10 X 16 refugium space is too small for a 6"
sand bed to perform any significant denitrification or dissolution of aragonite?
<As I said, it will help, please read again.>
Also, are u <you> saying that this small space would be better used as a mud/algae filter for tank stability/crustacean culture?
<Yes, and the Fiji Mud does contain plenty of beneficial minerals.>
Why do u <you> recommend the Walt smith Fiji mud <Walt Smith Fiji Mud>
over the miracle mud?
<Would just be my choice, I like the man and what he stands for. The Miracle Mud is also a good product.>
Thanks so much for ur <your> help!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Refugium help, substrate choices/choosing, socks 8/31/10
Hi Anthony,
My name is Sal.
<Hello Sal, Scott V. with you. Anthony has not been with the crew for some years now.>
I am planning on a refugium for my 90 gallon lps tank and I've got a few questions if u would be so kind.
I can't decide between a 5" DSB with oolitic sand or a miracle mud 1" sand bed. The reason I don't know if I want the 5" DSB is because I have a lot of detritus in my sump and I fear a nutrient sink situation. I can just siphon this detritus out right now since my sump is bare bottom. The great part of the miracle mud bed is that u swap out the mud every year thus
eliminating the nutrient sink possibility.
<A "gimmick" of the mud IMO.>
My LFS told me that the excess detritus accumulation in my sump is because I don't use a filter sock in my sump. They also said that if I used a filter sock with the 5" DSB, things would be just fine as far as avoiding a nutrient sink goes.
What do u think?
<I think this is fine advice. The DSB will serve more bang for the buck here, the filter socks can indeed be helpful here. A large part of the detritus buildup in the sump is due to dead spots in flow through it, just like the display. By using a DSB, effectively raising the floor of the sump putting the surface up into the flow, you may very well find the detritus does not accumulate in the same way, if at all.>
Should I use a filter sock no matter which route I choose?
<It will save you trouble/time cleaning it out.>
How often should they be cleaned?
<I do every few days. The socks are inexpensive enough to have several.
Swap them every three days or so, then wash a bunch at once.>
Thank you,

Refugium/DSB/Nitrate Control 6/21/10
Dear Crew,
First and foremost, thanks for the wealth of information, advice, reading material. As you may have guessed, I have some questions.
My setup is a 1/2 cylinder 130 gallon tank. The main tank has maybe 75 to 100 lbs of live rock, and 4" DSB. Circulation is handled by Koralia pumps two size two, and two size 4. The largest of which are on the back wall,
and the two smaller are built into the rock-scape. There are mostly soft corals, and a few SPS. Lighting is 2 - 250 MH's in a Current Outer Orbit fixture. Below the tank is a 5 gallon refugium unlit. It houses the protein skimmer (an ETSS downdraft rated for 250 gallons), a few filter pads (cleaned regularly), some carbon, and phosphate bags here two <too>. There are two Mag pumps in here also, one for the return to the display and a 7 for the protein skimmer.
<Hard to believe you have all this stuff in a 5 gallon tank, me thinks a typo here.>
I also have a MaxiJet 1200 that is supplying the calcium reactor, as well as the refugium. The refugium is 29 gallon tank. It has about 6 inches of a DSB. There is some more liverock and also some Chaeto in this tank.
I change 5 gallons of water, every three days.
Livestock: 1 Blue Chromis, Yellow Tang, Tomini Tang, Coral Beauty, Maroon Clown pair (which I paired myself and am quite proud of :-), Pajama Cardinal, one small clam, and a Coral Banded Shrimp.
My concern is the nitrates. I cannot get them below 10. I wondered if perhaps increasing the flow to the refugium tank may help with their reduction.
<Yes, depending on the current flow into the refugium. I would not use one pump to supply both the refugium and the calcium reactor, but one for each, much easier to control flow rates.>
I just don't feel that I am seeing the results that so many on your site have raved about.
<If the DSB is not teeming with microfauna, the DSB can have a reverse effect. Do read here and related articles/FAQ's found in the header.
I am also seeing a terrible outbreak of red slime algae.
<Again, read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm>
I check for phosphates, but I don't get any reading on my test kit.
<Not unusual, are generally absorbed as quickly as they are formed.>
(I use RO/DI top off and change water). I am hoping that finding a way to reduce the amount of nitrates in the tank will in turn kill the slime algae.
<Much information on this already exists on our site and can be found here.
I had bought some ChemiClean two weeks back and dosed the tank. This was a last resort, as I hate to add this type of thing...but after weeks of water changes, and frustration...well...you get the idea. The ChemiClean worked
pretty good...and I changed out gallons of water 2 days after dosing.
Sadly, not all the algae died, and now it has started working its way back very strong.
<A Band-Aid is all, must control the nutrient source for the algae.>
I am sure that there are several questions buried in here somewhere. Please help with whatever advice seems applicable.
<Reading the articles I linked you to should get you off to a good start.>
Again, many thanks from a dedicated reader.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Upgrading To A 75/Refugiums/Plumbing 5/14/10
Hello again.
<Hello Dave>
I got my 75 gallon tank yesterday and it is being leaked checked as I type.
<A good idea.>
It appears I will be able to use an overflow box. It is an Aqueon ProFlex hang-on overflow box. It has a hose barb located at the bottom of the outside box that sits 2 inches higher than my 38 gallon on its stand so this should work fine draining into the 38.
<Just be sure the drain hose is not submerged in the 38.>
I've been reading more on what type of substrate I should use and I'm leaning toward a sugar-fine grade at about 6 inches in depth. Is this a good amount and any idea on how many pounds of sand/aragonite that will be for a 75 gallon tank (18wx24L)?
<If you are planning a DSB, do read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm If not, a couple of inches deep will be fine providing you do not plan on keeping any burrowing wrasses. As far as the amount of sand you will need largely depends on grain size, depth desired, and tank dimensions. A long 75 and a short 75 are going to require different amounts to achieve the same depth. With your tank size, I would start with 60 pounds and go from there.>
With using this overflow box would you still recommend a 400gph return pump inside the 38?
<Sure, you can always throttle the output down with a gate valve if necessary. You may even want to go slightly higher as you will have some head loss depending on the length of the return tube. Gph measurements are taken right at the output of the pump and do not reflect head loss incurred by the length of the return line and/or any other restrictions.>
Thanks for your time.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Upgrading To A 75/Refugiums/Plumbing 5/3/10 - 5/4/10 - 5/14/10 - 5/17/10
Good morning.
<Hello Dave>
I put substrate and salt water in my 75 gallon yesterday. I went with 150 pounds of sugar-fine aragonite sand with a depth of 4-5 inches. I've only got one powerhead installed at the moment. The dust has finally settled enough that I can see into the tank and I am noticing a little sand tornado below the powerhead. The head has a 295 gph and is 5 inches above the sand should I take it higher or is this tornado being formed from sand particles still not settled?
<You will likely get this continually. I'd move the powerhead up near the water's surface.>
Should I sift the sand now to get the air pockets out that I can see in the sand bed?
<Not really necessary, will take care of itself.>
Once again thanks so much for your help you guys are great.
<You're welcome and once again, be sure to read here and related articles/FAQ's, as your sand depth is deep enough to be considered a DSB.
James (Salty Dog)>

Re Upgrading To A 75/Refugiums/Plumbing 5/3/10 - 5/4/10 - 5/14/10 - 5/17/10 - 5/18/10
It is me again haha.
<And it's me again also, ha ha.>
I went to the store and got a nice 10 pound piece of live rock and put it into the 75 gallon this morning. The tank is now super cloudy again. Guess this will eventually stop when adding things. If I am going to be adding my rock and equipment that I am using from my 38 gallon am I going to need to wait and fully cycle this 75 before adding the rock and my fish? My problem is that the 38 gallon tank is at another location and I'm worried that if I start taking rock from the 38 and putting it into the 75 the 38 is not going to have enough bio filter to keep up with my livestock in it.
What would your recommendation be to handle this?
<Obviously you have enough live rock in the 38 to handle the bioload of it's inhabitants, so why not make a complete transfer, just add more rock before introducing any more fish. You should not have any bio filter issues going this route. James (Salty Dog)>

Refugium Sand 3/22/10
I am setting up a new 6 gallon refugium for my existing 55 gallon reef and would like to use some black aragonite sand out my old brackish tank. The tank has been full and stagnant for at least 6 months. I shut off the pumps
after there was no more livestock. Is this sand safe to use?
<Likely so>
Should I rinse it?
<I would not, unless it's very dirty>
Either way, it's time to empty out the tank.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re Skimmer Selection... actually refugium flow, subst. 2/17/10
<Hello Les.>
I thought it was best, to only pump 3x-5x your tlt refugium water volume through the refugium and the rest should go to the skimmer section within the sump? If the refugium section within my sump is only 18gal of total water,
wouldn't I just want to pump around 90gph through that section?
<That is one school of thought, I personally do not subscribe to it. The two big arguments for slow flow are to not uproot the macro and to allow it time to absorb the nutrients it is taking out of the water. On the first point it is not
how much flow, but how it is implemented. A person could have 3 times turnover in a refugium and have
that flow directed at the macro's roots and cause problems. A person may also have 20 times turnover that is very dispersed with no issue. Also, if Chaetomorpha is the choice, rooting is not an issue. On the second point, this is simply not how plants or algae work. It is not like me throwing you a cheeseburger at 90 mph. The downside to too little flow is the buildup of detritus, just as in low flow areas of a tank or even a canister filter.>
Also, thanks for your previous response. You answered all my questions but one. You said to put all the LR I could in both the refugium and return sections of my sump, and some macroalgae. Do you also think I should put
some sand in the refugium?
<You can, I certainly do. I would have some sort of DSB somewhere, if not in the display
then remotely either through the refugium or a separate vessel.>
Thanks again, you have been a tremendous help.
<Welcome, have fun, Scott V.>

Leaking Refugium.. Need advice... mainly moving DSB sand 9/1/2009
I noticed yesterday that my 55G sump (3 chamber-> fuge/return/skimmer) is leaking. Luckily it's in the basement so I don't have any issues with damage and it's a slow leak, but with my auto top off setup, I have to keep adding saltwater to avoid a drop in salinity. Anyway, I know how to repair it or I might just get a new tank, not sure yet. My issue is dealing with the current refugium. It's been running for about 6mos, is full of macro algae and critters (snails, worms, mandarin, etc), and has about a 6" sandbed.
Let's say I decide to replace the tank completely, can I just try to separate the algae, top sand level, and critters, try to move the lower sand
bed in chunks, add back the algae and monitor levels?
<Yes... best to scoop out in sections, try to replace/move in the same top/bottom orientation to the new refugium>
The main tank is 90G, with about 160lbs of LR. I have an RDSB as well and absolutely no other issues with nitrates, phosphates, etc.. Can I risk such a move or do I need to wash the sand in RO or do something more drastic?
<I would not rinse the substrate if it is not "too dirty" in the move>
Thanks in advance! Matt
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock In Sump/Fuge, EricR's resp. -- 06/30/09
Looks like this got lost... Trying again.
<<Does happen sometimes'¦ Thanks for resending>>
Hello again,
This is Sunny from NJ.
<<Eric from SC on this end>>
I have setup the 150 gallon tank with a 42x16x16 sump and fuge combo. I have 125lb live rock in the main tank. I want to put some live rock in the sump as well.
<<Okay'¦shouldn't be a problem>>
I have Miracle Mud in the fuge. Can I place live rock in the fuge?
<<On the assumption that you are just utilizing the mud in the refugium and that this is not a true Miracle Mud system as described by the manufacturer of the mud (in which case you should follow their instructions suggestions re) then yes, you can place live rock in the refugium>>
The area in sump is occupied by the PS and there is not enough room.
Will putting live rock in fuge make sense? More so since there is light in fuge ~12 hrs a day.
<<Sure'¦ I have some live rock in my RDP lighted 55g refugium'¦along with a 9' DSB of sugar-fine Aragonite, and Chaetomorpha macroalgae as too>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Live rock in sump/fuge, ScottV's go 6/30/09
Hello again
This is Sunny from NJ. I have setup the 150 gallon tank with a 42x16x16 sump and fuge combo. I have 125lb live rock in the main tank. I want to put some live rock in the sump as well. I have miracle mud in the fuge. Can I place live rock in the fuge?
<Oh yes, no problem.>
The area in sump is occupied by the PS and there is not enough room.
Will putting live rock in fuge make sense?
<It does, there are many benefits.>
More so since there is light in fuge ~12 hrs a day.
<No problem.>
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Live Rock In Sump/Fuge -- 06/30/09
I heard about the live rocks in sump collect waste?
<<The sump itself will 'collect waste' just by the nature of the design/water flow through it. I wouldn't worry about such 'collection' in the refugium as any attempt at removal will likely also remove a good bit of the beneficial biota (which by the way, will be feeding on this detritus accumulation)'¦but the detritus can be siphoned/vacuumed from the mechanical side of the sump to reduce it some, if you are concerned re>>
There are opinions NOT to use live rock in sump/fuge at all and just let the LR in the main tank handle all filtration.
<<Indeed there are'¦is up to you to research and decide which way you want to go>>
I have 124 LB total in 150 gallon tank. Will that be enough?
<< (Hmm'¦now where did I leave that Magic 8-Ball'¦} There's more than mere 'weight' to deciding if you have enough rock in your system (quality of the rock itself, existence of and type/quality of ancillary filtration, stocking densities, etc.), and 'any' quantity of rock can serve as long as a system is 'stocked accordingly.' But, in the interest of keeping enough open space for fishes to swim and corals to grow (if present)'¦yes, this is likely enough rock (maybe more than enough) for this tank size. EricR>>

Sump/Refugium'¦Chaetomorpha and DSB Together? -- 05/04/09
Hi to all, I am Markos from Athens Greece.
<<Greetings Markos>>
I am setting up a new reef of 100g with a100g sump the sump is:1st compartment is creating a rain fall with some LR 2nd comp skimmer + calc reactor then baffles 3rd comp return pumps 4rth comp refugium (this is my question)... is it a good idea to put in a DSB in combination with Chaetomorpha?
<<Sure'¦ My own refugium is set up in just this manner>>
or it is better to put a DSB in the main tank the refugium dimensions are 20*20*22-inch?
<<The bigger the better in my opinion. If you like the look (some folks don't), adding the DSB to the main display for the increase in size is of benefit>>
Best regards.
<<Cheers, EricR>>

Re: Sump/Refugium'¦Chaetomorpha and DSB Together? -- 05/11/09
Thanks EricR.
<<You're welcome Markos>>
I belong to (some folks don't).
<<Ah, okay'¦so no DSB in the display>>
What about an ATScrubber above the DSB? (can I get a readymade screen with fittings anywhere?)
<<I don't see why you could not place an Algal Turf Scrubber above the DSB (instead of utilizing Chaetomorpha). I don't know where you can get these ready-made just off-hand, but do have a look around here: http://www.algaescrubber.net/forums/ >>
I have the space in the 20*20*22 refugium, how much flow should go through?
<<I think 200gph -300gph would be fine'¦and likely more toward the lower rate if you go with the scrubber instead of the macro-algae>>
Thanks again,
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Re: Sump/Refugium'¦Chaetomorpha and DSB Together? -- 05/15/09
So I'm ready to go now.
Is time to aquascape my display tank, just bought 50 pounds of dry rock and 60 pounds of live Fiji rock. Is this the right amount for 100g display+100g sump?
<<It is probably fine. I'm a fan of placing less rock in the tank than most hobbyists usually do/are otherwise advised. I think having more 'open space' than rock is a better, more natural look'¦not to mention giving the corals room to grow and the fishes room to swim and behave/develop normally. Obviously the amount of rock in a system does affect the bio-filter/bio-load and stocking levels must be considered re'¦but 'remoting' more rock or adding ancillary filtration of another type, when/if needed, are also considerations>>
I am planning to leave the rock to cure for a month or so then add fine aragonite of 1-inch. During this time I will have only vigorous circulation (I don't have my skimmer yet). Should I add a canister until my skimmer arrives?
<<It won't hurt if you want to try to maximize the survivability of the emergent organisms in/on the live rock. A small canister filled with a cup or two of carbon (changed out every week or two) should suffice. I would also recommend this/some type of chemical filtration on a permanent basis>>
Really appreciate you help and the site (learned a lot)...
<<We're glad to be of service>>
If you ever visit Greece Eric give me a call.
<<Ah! Will do>>
Best regards,
<<Cheers mate'¦ Eric Russell>>

How much LR is too much in my refugium? 4/16/09
Hi WWM Crew,
<Hi Steve, Mich with you today.>
I searched your web site for information and couldn't find an answer that exactly fit my situation, so here goes...
First, let me tell you about my gear, I have a Oceanic Tech series 120g with dual over flows, plumbed through a wall to my garage
<Many people envious here.>
where I have a 55g glass aquarium that I DIY'd into a refugium.
<Moat are DIY projects.>
I used acrylic baffles for the main chamber where the over-flows spill into a CPR dual sump inlet 200 micron sleeve. Also in this chamber is a Berlin protein skimmer powered by a Mag drive 5 (what are your thoughts about this skimmer?).
<I have not personally used, but if you're getting skimmate, that's a good thing.>
There is also a Fluval 204 power head pushing water through my UV
<Kills the bad... and the good...>
and returning back into the 2nd chamber where the actual refugium is. My Ebo Jager 250 Watt heater is in chamber 1 as well.
<I've always preferred two smaller heaters to one large heater incase one gets stuck in the on position, is less likely to cook your tank.>
The water flows quite fast into the 2nd chamber where I have about 2 inches of crushed coral and about 60# of LR (mixture of Fiji and Vanuatu), the refugium is filled to capacity with the LR and some Caulerpa.
<Hope you're not in California... Caulerpa is illegal there. I would recommend Chaetomorpha, has less possible problems, i.e. will not go sexual like Caulerpa.>
I have chosen to use an existing Coralife Day light 25w T12 light (Is this enough light?) on during the night.
<If your algae's growing.>
From the 2nd chamber, I used 3 acrylic baffles which lead into the 3rd chamber where I have a Quite One model 6000 for the return and a bag of activated charcoal. The flow in the main tank is quite good, in addition to the refugium inlets, I have 2 Hydor Koralia 4 pumps, 3 - inches of Caribsea live sand 160#, and about 100# of Vanuatu LR, lit by 48" Outer Orbit 2x 150 MH w/ T5 Actinics. The tank has been set up for about 2 weeks, the crushed coral sand and Fiji LR in the refugium are from an older established tank and have lots of copepods, small snails and other life living in it. The Vanuatu LR is fairly new but already cured. water param.s are not yet stable and are as follows. Temp 79F, SG 1.025, Ammonia 0.25, Nitrate 5ppm, Nitrite 0.1, Alk 1.7, Phosphate 0.1.
Ok, now that I got that mouthful out of the way, I can ask you my question. Is there such a thing as having too much live rock in my refugium?
<Only if it is an inconvenience to you.>
The water from chamber 1 over flowing into the refugium chamber number 2 does not (or appears not to) circulate at the bottom of the refugium near the sand bed. Is this ok?
will the water fowl or become stagnant?
<No, and will provide a breeding ground for your microfauna.>
Because as of now about, the top 1/3rd of the refugium has good current into the 3rd chamber where the return pump is.
Also, I modeled my refugium from your DIY pic on your web site, this is the sole filtration for the main tank...thanks!
<All sounds good.>
I appreciate your time,
<Happy to share when I have it!>

Mud bed vs. DSB vs. bare bottom 8/31/08 Refugium Confusion... Dear crew, <Scott F. your Crew member tonight!> I am in the process of changing things around for my 210 g FOWLR (putting a larger skimmer in a sump, replacing my 2 Remora hang-ons). My specific question is regarding my refugium. It's been in use for 3 years with a mud bed. In that time I've had a constant battle with hair algae in my main tank, can't get coralline to take over and I swear my tank always has a slight green tint. However, my fish have never been healthier. In the past I've always had problems with lateral line disease on certain fish. I have a blue hippo tang that I've had for the last 3 years who is beautiful without a mark on him. <Interesting...Seems a lot like what I've heard in the ads for Eco System Miracle Mud!> I have a suspicion that the mud has been a contributing factor to the phosphates and hydrogen sulfide. <A possibility, although phosphates often come from food and source water, and can be reduced, or even eliminated via use of water pre-treatment (RO/DI) and good protein skimming. On the other hand, hydrogen sulfide could be coming from a disturbance in the deep mud bed> What are most aquarists doing now for their refugiums? Using mud, sand or nothing at all? <Wow...hard to say. So many different ways to go. It depends on what you're trying to accomplish. If your goal is to grow macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha, you may be able to get away without any substrate at all. On the other hand, many hobbyists are taking advantage of their refugiums to run a supplemental deep sand bed. I've even seen hobbyists use their refugia for seagrasses-an interesting and attractive concept.> Today I'm emptying my refugium to put in my new sump and refugium set-up. I don't know whether to keep the mud or not. I have Chaetomorpha, Caulerpa, and 2 mangroves growing as well as some live rock and assorted other inhabitants. Thanks for your input. Jeff <I'd try some of the other controls for phosphate mentioned above first, before tearing out your mud bed. I would, however, properly dispose of the Caulerpa, as it has some real drawbacks. You'll find that the Chaetomorpha is a far better nutrient export vehicle than Caulerpa, and has none of the drawbacks (ie; potential to release gametes, possible toxicity to corals, and super aggressive growth). If harvested regularly, you can achieve tremendous nutrient export with Chaetomorpha. In the end, configure your refugium to do what you want it to do (ie; provide nutrient export, create a safe haven for larval fishes, supplemental food production, etc.) and you will be happier overall with your results. Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.>

Mud vs. DSB in HOB Refugium 8/6/08 Hello: <Tom.> I spent about 5 hours reading about HOB Refugiums last night (until 4am). I am considering purchasing a AquaFuge2 Large (25" Long) HOB. Not sure I completely understand what's best for my tank a Mud or DSB on the bottom of refugium. My tank: 46 gallon bow 404 Fluval canister filter Red Sea Prizm protein skimmer Approx. 1" crushed coral on bottom. <The usual nitrate factory warnings: clean the canister frequently along with the crushed coral bed (consider replacing this with something finer) to prevent detritus buildup.> Thanks for reading. <Either will work fine, pretty much personal choice. I choose DSB for myself, mud is expensive and can be messy if not careful. Ask the next guy and he will swear by the mud. Give whichever appeals to you a try.> Tom <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Mud vs. DSB in HOB Refugium 8/7/08 Hello Scott: Thanks for the quick reply. Did you suggest that I should consider replacing the crushed coral in the bottom of my 46 gallon display tank? <Yes.> This is something I have been wondering whether its possible to do. Maybe remove all the crushed coral and put a DSB in the main tank to. <It is one way, the one which I prefer.> Is this possible with out damaging live stock (fish/corals)? <Yes, either move out the livestock and switch or just scoop out what you can and add the new, finer sand.> Thanks Again, Tom <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Mud vs. DSB in HOB Refugium 8/7/08 Hello: Thanks again. <Welcome.> When creating a DSB is the entire 4-5 inches to be sugar fine sand? <Sugar fine is good, you can use a bit coarser if you like, but the finer the better.> Are there any recommended "Live Sands" that would meet the proper criteria? <No, just some dry sand with live rock to seed off of (or a scoop of sand from an existing tank). The majority of "live"/bagged sands are a joke in my opinion. True live sand will have curing issues just like rock.> Regards, Tom <Scott V.>

Re: Mud vs. DSB in HOB Refugium/Tank 8/11/08 Hello: Thanks for all the support on this subject. <No problem.> I have ordered the sugar fine sand and should have it by Friday. Almost everyday I find myself spending a lot of time scanning through WWM and learning a little of a lot. I mean there is so much information I am trying to learn and WWM is a wealth of information. <Great!> This is what I plan to do. Remove some of the water into a bucket(s). Move my live rock to the buckets, scoop out the crushed coral, rinse the new sand slowly add the sand 4-6 inches, and add the live rock back. I am unclear whether to put the rock directly on the sand? <You can, if you have many diggers in your tank you may wish to use some small pieces of rock to support your live rock before you put in the sand. Stack the rock with as little as possible near the bottom of the tank, then add sand. Either can work, but if you have diggers in your tank it can lead to a rockslide, just a word of warning.> Or should I use egg crate? If I should use egg crate do I build it up so the egg crate is slightly higher then the sand to allow water to flow under the rock? <Na, I'd forget about the eggcrate, use some rock to support it.> Hopefully my existing livestock will survive this adventure. Thanks for taking the time to read this. <Very welcome.> Regards, Tom <Have fun, Scott V.>

Refugium Sand... using WWM 7/29/08 I started my refugium about 2 years ago it is doing great. I using a 20 gallon tank and I'm using Prolifera Caulerpa and some Feather Caulerpa in it. <Mmm, I would switch, get rid of these... look to other, more useful groups of algae... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm scroll down...> And I'm using a MJ 900 to pump the water up to the refugium. and my sand is about 4.5'' deep. (Is it normal for the sand to start turning black?) <... not good> I think it may have a smell also. Do I need to remove the sand and start over or can clean it? If I can clean it what would be the best way? <... you're joking? Or just lazy? Or refuse to follow directions? Go elsewhere> Please excuse my spelling and grammar Thanks wdbill <No... use the tools available before sending... including the search tool, indices on WWM... Your info. and likely much more of use to you is archived there. Bob Fenner>

Deep Sand Bed/Refugium 7/7/08 Hi, <Paul.> I currently have a 125 reef running with a 55 glass aquarium as my DSB with 6" depth of sand. This tank setup has been running for the last 5-6 years. 0 ppm nitrate. <Great!> My question is simple to me, but I can not find an answer. Is there some formula for figuring out how big a DSB should be when used in a sump verses the reef aquarium size? <No formula, fit what you can, bigger is better.> I need an idiot proof answer. For example: A 125 gallon show tank reef would require a minimum of a 55 gallon tank with at least 6" of sand to control nitrates. <Hmmm, none to give, big as you can is the best bet.> Surface dimensions is what I'm looking for. <If you have a DSB in your tank (you do), then the load for a DSB in the refugium is much less. But, it can be helpful. Concentrate more on having a functional depth, 4'+, rather than size as far as surface area.> Thank you for any help. <Welcome.> I am setting up a 210 next week so I wondering is I can use the current 55 gallon or even one of a lesser size. <You certainly could go larger or smaller, but a 55 would be a nice refugium for a 210 if it fits the stand/décor.> Paul <Scott V.>

Re: Deep Sand Bed/Refugium 7/7/08 Thank you Scott'¦ <Welcome.> So you would suggest just transferring my 55 gallon sump with the 6 inches to the 210 and that will work? <If you need the sand, sure. Do be sure to remove the upper couple of inches, wash the rest and place all in the new tank in their respective levels. If you intend to keep the 55 as a refugium, by all means leave the sand bed alone and get new sand for the display. Have fun setting up, Scott V.>

Re: 120 Reef Sump/Refugium 5/3/08 Hey Scott John again with another question. I want to start stocking my tank with rock. My question is Doctor Fosters & Smith have Fiji foundation rock I could get 140 lbs for $230.00. I would be adding some nice rock onto this to seed. They say it has some life on it. <Yes, it is still a live rock, not a dry rock.> What do you think about this? <It is a super idea.> Eventually it will all be live, right? <It is already, just not to the point of having the aesthetic appeal of the higher quality rock you are putting on top.> My second question is I don't have my light yet. Would it be ok to have in tank while cycling with out any light it would be a few months before I get the light. <You can, but all your rock will end up looking like the base rock. You will be better off getting the light first.> Running low on funds. <The constant plight of the reefkeeper!> Or should I put this toward the expense of the light then add a little rock at a time after I get the light? <This is what I would do my friend. Scott V.>

Play Sand in Refugium DSB? -- 04/26/08 Hello Crew, <<Howdy, Mark>> I've been doing my homework on DSB's and substrate and I'm in the final stages of setting up a 90 gal tank. <<Neat!>> I modified the drain from 1 ¼ to 1 ½ and built a standpipe. <<Excellent>> I made a 3 compartment acrylic sump which will hold about 20 gal under normal op. I will have about 8 gal in a refugium and the skimmer compartment will house an Aqua C- EV120. <<A good skimmer choice>> The middle compartment holds the return pump and heater. <<So the refugium and skimmer compartments are at the opposing ends? Interesting design'¦>> I have a closed-loop on top of the tank with (4) ½" outlets to be hooked to a MAG18. <<Mmm'¦considering headloss, you may want to consider the Mag24 (you need 350gph or more per nozzle 'after' headloss)>> Lighting will be 300 watts MH on the display and a small standard fluorescent on opposite photo cycle for the refugium. My question concerns the refugium and tank substrate. I plan on keeping corals in the future but will initially move the 50# of LR and the following critters from my 55 to the new tank: 2 False Percula 1 6-Line Wrasse 2 Yellow Damsels (these guys are diggers) may give them back to LFS 1 Coral Beauty 1 Sail Fin Tang (Zebrasoma veliferum) <<Great fish'¦but needs/deserves a tank at least three-times larger than the 90g, my friend>> 1 Peppermint Shrimp 1 Turbo Snail 1 Cortez Hermit With this fish load I've read that a DSB in the main display may not be a good choice. <<Can take up needed swimming space>> I'm not very keen on the looks of a DSB in the main tank anyway. <<I'm a huge fan of DSBs, but then I have a very large display tank'¦Bob pretty much always advocates a remote DSB>> I'm reading that Aragonite is the better choice for substrate due to buffering capacity but that silicate based sands can work for a DSB. <<Yes'¦I used such in my propagation system (is not 'pretty' though)>> Due to obvious cost issues with Aragonite coupled with the bio-load I'd like to put only ½" (approx 20-30# of the 1-2mm size) in my display and then use 4" of fine white play sand in my small refugium. <<Mmm'¦if it is not 'Aragonite' it will not be 'white'>> I don't want to use the sugar fine stuff in the display due to the closed-loop possibly causing a sand storm with only ½" of depth. <<Can be controlled to some extent by controlling the direction of the nozzles'¦but understood>> I mainly would like the benefits of nitrification with the DSB along with nutrient export utilizing macro algae in the refugium. <<I see>> I have read about the issues of diatom blooms associated with using silicate based play sand. <<Generally short-lived as the sand will become 'encapsulated' with bacteria>> Some say it's not going to cause the problem but can exacerbate it. <<Maybe so>> Others say do not use this type sand at all. <<Differing opinions>> I've never incorporated either a refugium or DSB so this is all a new venture for me. <<Both will be of great benefit>> My current system has a wet/dry and H.O.T. skimmer. Wanted to get away from the wet/dry. <<These are of use to FO and FOWLR systems due to their ability to rapidly adjust to fluctuating bio-loads, but reef systems are more sensitive to the elevated Nitrates associated re and are better off utilizing live rock/live sand only, with its capacity to metabolize said Nitrate>> Do you see any major problems utilizing this kind of approach with my substrates? <<Not at all>> Are there any issues with the critters in the DSB with the use of said play sand in the refugium? <<The play sand is more abrasive than Aragonite sand which can irritate some macro-organisms (e.g. -- sand-sifting Gobies), but is of little concern to the majority of the substrate biota>> Other thoughts ideas? <<I say'¦give it a go>> Thanks for the great site! Mark Gustin <<Happy to share. Eric Russell>>

Refugium and Filter Media 4/9/08 Hi guys, <Walter.> I have tried finding this question but can't seem to find it. <OK> I have an 85 gallon tank with an overflow box and wet/ dry filter system. I also have a CPR protein skimmer. I have about 100 lbs. of live rock in the tank. I am trying to landscape the tank to make appealing to the eye as well as serve its purpose for the inhabitants. My questions are: Can I put some of the rock down in the sump of the wet/ dry filter and I have read that in a reef tank to take out the filter media that is in the trays of the wet dry. Thanks for all the help. Walter <You certainly can put some of your live rock down in the sump. It will serve a type of refugium. If you have the room consider lighting the area and adding some substrate with macroalgae. The filter media can be removed. It will accumulate detritus and contribute to nitrate problems. The live rock and skimmer will provide the filtration. I have included a link below for you regarding the refugium addition. Welcome, Scott V.> http://wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm

Refugiums, des./filter media 4/9/08 Hello again, <Hi Shawn> My question for today is, in my refugium after the water goes through the area with the live rock rubble, sand and algae it overflows into the chamber where the return pump is located. Where the water overflows is a piece of foam to catch debris coming out of that section. Does the foam prevent any critters that the refugium produces from entering the next area, hence not making it into the main tank. Should this foam be removed or will the plankton pass through the foam. <I would remove the foam or at least replace with a coarse sponge to trap larger particles of waste. The plankton will then find their way (much more easily) into your tank and continue multiplying and providing food there.> Thanks in advance, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Shawn

Combining Overflows/Refugium Substrates 2/26/08 Greetings WWM Crew, <Hello Bart.> I have always enjoyed the hours I have spent reading on your site and the valuable info you provide. For this I offer my thanks. <Thank you.> I have a few plumbing questions for you regarding a system project I am undertaking. After three years of successful reef keeping in my 72 gallon bow-front I have acquired a pre-drilled AGA 120 and am making the switch. I am especially excited to do away with my siphon overflow (no major mishaps...Just lucky I guess). <I hear you my friend!> I will keep a variety of LPS corals on about 120 lbs of liverock and stock fish very lightly. The tank is pre-drilled with two Megaflow overflow chambers installed. They have the standard 1" drains with Durso standpipes and ¾" returns. I understand from my research here that these are smaller than is to be desired, but my thinking is that I can get healthy water flow if I add some big powerheads in the tank and take care of filtration and skimming in the sump with the 12 or 1300 GPH I will get from the twin drains. Is this reasonable to assume? <I am sorry, but no. These are smaller than to be desired, a 1' bulkhead will only flow around 300 GPH safely, giving you around 600 GPH total draining capacity.> My plan is to place a 50 gallon sump in the basement, directly below the tank. If I were to combine the two 1" drains into one 2" pipe, will my drains slow down? <This will work fine, the 2' has about 4-5 times the draining capacity as a 1'.> I'm thinking it would be easier to send one pipe through the floor than two. The sump will be a simple design and house a skimmer (not selected yet) followed in line by a refugium. The return pump will be an IWAKI MD70RLT which should be able to handle return flow approaching 1400 GPH at the required head. <You will want to choose a smaller pump.> Since the combined flow to the sump directly below the tank should be around 1200 GPH, would this be too much flow for a refugium housing only Chaetomorpha? <No, that is fine for the Chaetomorpha, but you will not be flowing this much.> I am considering a sump with no substrate because I have heard that the substrate can become a nitrate factory. This is confusing because I have also heard that Deep Sand Beds are denitrifiers. What are your thoughts regarding refugiums without substrates? <I like and use the DSB method. Substrate can become a nitrate factory when it traps excess detritus, usually a trait of large grain substrates. The use of fine substrates will not be an issue and will benefit your system with proper water flow, which you will need even if you leave the refugium bare bottom.> My plan is that the Refugium and the skimmer would be the ONLY filtration in this tank. <And the live rock in your display.> I thank you in advance for any help you can offer. Keep up the good work! Bart <Welcome, will do. Scott V.>

Refugium DSB question Getting To The Bottom of Things (Substrate Materials) 2/21/08 Hi Crew, <Hey there! Scott F. in tonight!> I have chosen to go with a DSB (depth around 5'')?using sand for my new refugium. I'm looking at 2 different types. Both being of the Caribsea brand. The first one is Caribsea Aragamax sand 0.2 - 1.2mm.The ad for it says "Known as oolitic sand grade is ideal for shallower beds allowing denitrification in as little 1" in depth." The other I'm looking at is Caribbean Sea Aragamax select 30lb 0.5-1.02 . The ad says "Provides nitrate reduction in shallower beds and also has an increase in pore water space which allows maximum diffusion rates of minerals and trace elements." I was just wondering if you have an opinion on which one is better, or if there is combinations of sand that is best. The main reason for my fuge is filtration, denitrification, and making my take more self sufficient. <I have used both products, and I would recommend either.> Also, Caribsea has a line of product called Ocean Direct. It's suppose to be live sand with true beneficial bacteria. Could this be helpful to seed either of the above two substrates??? The ad says nothing about the diameter of the grain size though. Would it be bad to mix in a little of the ocean direct being that it probably has a completely different grain diameter??? I'm also? going to seed with live rock fragments and I would to like to get some sand from an existing system but I don't know if that is going to be possible? Any information will be appreciated. Thank you in advance! Peter <Well, Peter, I've used the live stuff, too, mainly because the particular sand that I wanted was only available "live". It does contain some bacteria, but it certainly does not contain the beneficial micro and microfauna that you'll want. I would still use a variety of substrate materials, including bits of rubble and sand from a healthy, established reef system, to help seed the system. In my opinion, you can't have too much diversity in a sandbed! I see no great disadvantages in mixing a few different sizes of fine substrate together. Should be just fine! Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Sump/Refugium Set Up and Substrate 2/9/08 Hello Crew <Hello Peter.> I have to once again start out by saying thank you for the great site! Ok, my project is coming to an end. I have built my refugium- basically an identical knock off to aqua-fuge pro only a little bigger 45 to 50 gallons capacity. It will be supporting my 250 gallon fish only system. <OK> The first chamber is going to house a G series ASM protein skimmer. I have a 65w 6700k compact light. In the beginning, I plan on using the bio balls that are in my wet/dry now to fill the first chamber (w/protein skimmer) and last chamber with return pump. Over time I will replace first chambers bio-balls with live rock. I have already taken out some of the bio balls in the wet/dry cleaned them and placed them in the over flow in hopes that this will also help support the system during conversion period. <This will help somewhat, although they will not be getting the true wet/dry super oxygenation effect.> My questions are: 1) I am still on the fence on the subject of substrate for the fuge. My choices are fine oolitic sand about 5 inches, Mineral Mud, Miracle Mud, or Kent bio-sediment. The Main purpose of my refugium is filtration (one being bio-filtration) and making my tank more self sufficient. <There are many opinions on which is best, my vote is for the oolitic sand in the depth mentioned. It is more cost effective, easier to use in my opinion and works just fine.> 2) I would like to reduce nitrates. I know a DSB with fine oolitic sand works well for this but will this also be achieved if I use a DSB of about 5 inches with some Mud on the bottom and find sand on top or mixed together? <Yes, you will still see the effects of a DSB here. You can certainly mix substrates if you wish.> Should there be more sand then mud or mud then sand? <This is personal choice here. 100% of either or any combo in between can serve your purpose here.> Can Nitrate reduction be achieved with deep mud alone? <Yes, the same principles are involved.> 3) If I use the sand do you suggest buying it live? <At least enough to seed the sand bed, better yet borrow some from an existing system if you can. Do be aware that true live sand is more than the water packed stuff in a plastic bag you see at the LFS.> 4) For my macro I am thinking Chaetomorpha. Any other suggestions for my intentions or does this sound good? <This is by far my favorite macroalgae.> Can I mix? For example, Chaetomorpha and mangroves? <Mangroves will be fine to add if you wish, but I would not mix macroalgae, one will outcompete the other.> 5) Clean-up crew question. What organisms do you suggest adding to my fuge and when should I do this? <Nassarius snails, when the tank and rock is cycled/cured completely.> 6) How do my plans with the bio-balls and live rock in chamber with protein skimmer sound is this a good place to fill live rock? It's a pretty big chamber because the ASM skimmer. <If you have the room I say go for it. Are there plans for any of the rock in the main display?> 7) Is there any harm in leaving the bioballs in the overflow after conversion period? <Just the typical detritus accumulation/nitrate production associated with their use.> 8) Am I missing anything that can help my situation? <No, sounds good.> Once again thank you for your time. I just want to make sure I do this right the first time. Regards Peter <Have fun with this project. I included a few links to help guide you here, there are many ways to do what you propose. Scott V.> http://wetwebmedia.com/refugdsbfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/livesand.htm

Deep sand beds? Depth... refugium... 2/8/08 Hi, Jake Smith here <Hello Jake!> My main tank is a 30 gallon and I have about 1 inches of sand. I am setting up a refugium, and I was planning on growing some Caulerpa (I think that's how it is spelled) and other plants The refugium is a 5.5 gallon tank and I put 20 pounds of live sand. so far the sand is about 2.75 inches deep. I was wondering if that sand bed would be at all beneficial or if I need to add more sand. <I think you are fine with close to a 3" deep sand bed. This is deep enough for denitrification to occur. Your system is relatively small and should receive frequent weekly water changes of say 5 gallons per week to help maintain water quality and export nutrients.> I Have heard that deep sand beds can cause problems. but seeing as in my refugium I am planning on having one fish, I do not think detritus will be a problem. So basically what I was wondering is how deep of a sand bed would be the best depth and the least risky of detritus and ph drop and such. <I am not sure I would add a fish to a 5.5gallon refugium and rather would keep any fish in the main display. You could add an invert to the refugium like a pistol shrimp and some Nassarius snails. As far as problems with maintenance of deep sand beds goes, they are usually associated with elevated levels of phosphates and nitrates. Water changes will help reduce this problem from happening. The addition of a small fluidized bed reactor like the "POLY-REACTOR" by Via Aqua which comes with it's own pump would be a benefit to your system for the use of activated carbon and phosphate resins to help maintain water quality. Finally, make sure that you are using RO/DI (Reverse Osmosis/De-ionized Water) for all of your water needs as this will help with maintaining a beautiful tank. Hope this helps-Rich...aka...Mr. Firemouth> Thanks for all your guys help

Question about refugium sand bed 02/08/2008 Hi, Jake Smith here <<Hello, Andrew here>> My main tank is a 30 gallon and I have about 1 inches of sand. I am setting up a refugium, and I was planning on growing some Caulerpa (I think that's how it is spelled)<<Caulerpa>> and other plants. The refugium is a 5.5 gallon tank and I put 20 pounds of live sand. so far the sand is about 2.75 inches deep. I was wondering if that sand bed would be at all beneficial or if I need to add more sand. <<Bump this up to about 4 inches for better use>> I Have heard that deep sand beds can cause problems, but seeing as in my refugium I am planning on having one fish, I do not think detritus will be a problem. <<DSB's don't necessarily cause problems. Incorrect setup DSB's cause problems in my opinion>> So basically what I was wondering is how deep of a sand bed would be the best depth and the least risky of detritus and ph drop and such. <<Shoot for around 4 inches minimum>> Thanks for all your guys help <<Thanks for the questions. A Nixon>>

Tank upgrade Substrate/Refugium 2/4/08 Hello, I would like to start by thanking you all for volunteering your time to run WWM! I am an avid reader, and deeply appreciate this resource. <Thank you, it is a pleasure to be a part of.> I will soon be upgrading from a 55 gallon FOWLR to a 75 gallon. My current inhabitants are a 5 ' Tetraodon nigroviridis, one 2 'Amphiprion clarkii, and one 1 1/2' Chrysiptera parasema. I don't plan on adding anymore livestock after the move, I'd just like them to have more room to roam. <Yes.> This system has been running for about 2 years. When I set up the new tank, I will be adding more live sand and I was wondering which one to add first, the newly purchased, or the sand from my current set up? <I would put the old sand on top or even just mix the two together.> Right now the depth of the sand is about 2' but I'd like to increase that to 3' or 4'. <Go for the 4' depth.> I am guessing it doesn't matter, but I really want to do this the right way and not cause a major upset that I could avoid. I also have an Aqua-Clear 150 that I'd like to stop using after I switch. I currently have about 40# of LR (will add more) and an AquaC-Remora Pro skimmer. I haven't gotten rid of the Aqua-Clear because every time I perform maintenance, there are tons of micro crustaceans, etc. that have made their home in the filter and I think they must be beneficial. <Acting as a small refugium.> Would there be a benefit to adding a hang on refugium in place of the Aqua-Clear even though I am not going to be keeping inverts? <Yes, especially if you grow macroalgae for nutrient export.> I was thinking I could put some of the filter media in the fuge to entice the critters to switch homes. I know some advocate the removal of filters and some still find them useful, so I'm confused about my options. <Possibly opt for additional live rock here instead. If you can divide the area with baffles and light it and add macroalgae this will be even better.> I searched through the tank upgrade FAQ's and didn't see anything that pertains to the sand question, so any help would be appreciated. Thanks again! Jenny <Welcome, good luck, Scott V.>

DSB filtration, gen. 01/13/2008 Hello Bob, <Campbell> How are you? <Fine my friend, thank you> Well it's been a while since I last wrote to you and I have been reading up on filtration and sand beds, as you recommended and have come up with this, see attached sketch. The dimensions you see for the DSB and SSB sections are fairly arbitrary and are not set in stone. <I see this> Let me talk you through it. I am gravity feeding my skimmer and from this input I will divert some raw water to the DSB section, approx 1200lph Water from the skimmer will enter the SSB area but with a small portion diverted to the DSB. This is to allow some highly oxygenated water to enter the DSB. I read that this oxygenated water is appreciated by the top level critters. Water from the skimmer output and the DSB enters the SSB area which will be opposite lit and contain macro algae and LR. The reason for the DSB and SSB is that I read that they remove nitrate in different ways. Trying to get the best of two worlds here. :0) <Okay> I intend to manufacture diffuser bars, basically like a spray bar but with larger holes so the water doesn't jet too much. This will allow me to distribute water fairly evenly across the entire width, front to back, of the DSB and SSB sections. Now from what I have found there is no recommendation on size of DSB, yes it seems to be widely recommended that the DSB be 6" deep for my 230 gallon tank but I just can't see any recommendations on the other 2 dimensions. Nor can I see any recommended water depth in the DSB. As you can see from the sketch I have entered this as 12" deep, but I don't know if that's right. What would you recommend the DSB dimensions and water depth? <What you show is fine... there are many and varying opinions re how large, what type/size/grade of substrate... much of this is gone over on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm and the linked files above> There also seems to be two schools of thought regarding flow speed through the DSB, one says it should be low to let particles fall out of suspension the other says it should be high and turbulent to prevent Cyano, keep the surface relatively clear and to "force" water into the bed by advection rather than relying on diffusion to filter water down through the bed. Which is best here? <Not to be or seem disingenuous, but a bit of both are so... Ideally some area would be relatively higher/lower...> I also have the intention of using mechanical pre-filtration to remove the larger solids and prevent fouling the bed too much. Boy, you should see the funny looks and outraged comments when I mention that. :0) Seems like everybody confuses mechanical with sponge and subsequent bio colonisation of said sponge. No, what I mean is nylon mesh, grid size somewhere in the region 1mm to 5mm, just to take the larger stuff out. <Do look to the bags like Emperor Aquatics here... to "hang on/attach" to the discharge end/s of your feeder lines going down into the sump. Easy to use, clean> So my DSB would be unlit and my SSB opposite lit and I had the idea to run the skimmer only when the main halides were on and the SSB lights were off. Mindful of oxygen content the skimmer would be off after the SSB lights came on. This way I could stabilise pH and maintain oxygen level via the macro algae. <Again, sounds fine> Question is, if the flow in the DSB should be fast and turbulent should I remove the SSB, have one large DSB? <I would leave your design as is> If so, I had the idea to put in egg crate platforms to sit LR on. These platforms would be spaced at random to vary flow and provide turbulence and would sit on the DSB base suspending the LR about 1 inch above the sand, is one inch sufficient? <Yes> Therefore there would be no pressure on the bed and thus no compaction complications. I would also light the DSB, have egg crate dividers spaced at regular intervals and have macro algae, Chaeto most likely, in one divide at a time. I would then rotate, say once a month, the entire clump of algae to the next divide thus preventing a build up debris/nutrients above a single area of the DSB, which, as I have read, would be a bad thing. In this scenario both raw and skimmed water would flow into the DSB and again I would opposite light it and run the skimmer only when the main halides were on and DSB lights were off. How does this sound? <Fine> Lastly, one other thing that came up in conversion was the low pH and subsequent sedimentation of the aragonite sand at the bottom of the bed. It was suggested that sugar fine silica sand <Mmm, not by me...> could be used for the majority, 4 inches, of the depth of the bed with an aragonite cap of 2 inches on top to help stabilise calcium, alkalinity and pH but without the complications of very low pH at the bottom of the bed.. What do you think of that? <The silica/silicate/SiO2 gets too easily packed down, channelizes... and will be/get mixed... I would just use the calcareous material... again, please see the above link> I would appreciate your thoughts on this and sorry for the lengthy email, I would like to get this correct from the outset as it would be dangerous for my livestock and no use to me if I get it wrong and have to rip it apart and start again. Thanks and regards,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Replacing Old Sand Bed in Refugium 12/27/07 Hello, <Hi> I am planning on changing out my old sand bed (5yrs) for a new one and have a concern that this would cause my tank to start a cycle. <Yes most likely, at least to some degree.> I have a 180g SPS tank with a 40g refugium and a 20g sump, there is 250 pounds of live rock in display and another 50 in the refugium. Do you think taking the refugium offline and changing the sand (about 60 pounds) then putting it back inline would cause harm to my inhabitants. <May see a ammonia/nitrite spike as the bacteria inhabiting the old sand bed is removed.> As far as equipment I run a Deltec 851 skimmer , Deltec reactor with Rowaphos and a Deltec calcium reactor. I just want to make sure I do not crash the tank. <Unlikely, I would guess the existing bacterial population will quickly increase to make up for the removed sand bed. Within a few days I would guess you will be back to normal.> Thanks Mike Winston <Welcome> <Chris>

Re: Replacing Old Sand Bed in Refugium 12/27/07 Thanks, would it help to add the top 2 inches of my existing bed to the new sand? <Yes in that it would add back some bacteria and micro-fauna, but you will probably still see a small cycle.> <Chris>

Refugium For NNR? 9/17/07 Hi Crew, <Hello Ian> I have a 90 gallon FOWLR that is more or less fully stocked (Yellow Tang, Golden Butterfly, Flame Angel, 3 Firefish, False Perculas (2), male/female Lineatus Wrasse). <I'd say a little overstocked.> I've removed the bioballs from the sump and added an AquaC Urchin skimmer in its place. I'd also like to establish a DSB for my tank for NNR. The problem is my stand/sump is very limited with space, so I was looking at using something like the CPR in-tank refugium in the sump (but only for a DSB). The size of this is 7 3/4" x 4" x 7 1/2". I would use sugar-fine at a height of 4-5". Would a DSB of this size have much impact for NNR in this tank or is it worth skipping altogether? <You would be much better off setting this up as a combo (DSB/Refugium). Go for a three inch sand bed and stock with some live rock rubble and Caulerpa. You will need a small nine watt PC fixture over the refugium, they are reasonably priced at most fish etailers.> Thanks, <You're welcome, James (Salty Dog)> Ian

Refugium/DSB Depth 9/13/07 Hey Crew, <Hey whoever you are.> I am designing a refugium for my 110g mixed reef system. This will be a separate vessel apart from the sump. Goal is NNR, nutrient export, plankton generation along with growing all the other little fellows to feed the livestock in the display. Will probably put small pump in sump to feed the refugium and then gravity flow back into sump. I am intending to put in DSB. I have a rather small foot print that the refugium needs to set it... 24" x 24"... but have some height to work with. Typically I see recommendations for DSB of 4"-6". So my question is, can I just make the DSB deeper, say, 12" -18" deep? Will the same volume of substrate function the same regardless of how it is housed? <Personally, I wouldn't go much deeper than 4". Anaerobic areas can/will develop. Read here and linked files above for more on this subject. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm James (Salty Dog)>

Refugium Follow-up 7/16/07 Thanks for the help, Scott. Much appreciated. Just two follow up questions if you don't mind. <Ask away!> 1. Do you think I should add more live rock/reef rubble to the fuge? <It really depends on your goals for your system. The rubble can serve as a colonization site for copepods or other cryptic organisms.> 2. I've seen a lot of talk about sand beds becoming "nutrient sinks" but I'm unclear on what, exactly, that means and whether I need to periodically stir the sand or leave it as is. Thanks! Andy <Well, Andy, the "nutrient sink" argument suggests that a sandbed becomes "saturated" with organic materials at some point and then begins to leach nasty stuff into the water column, degrading water quality. In my opinion and experience, with decent flow and overall good husbandry techniques, you should not have such issues in your system. For way more than could ever be posted here, do check in the WWM article archives and FAQs under "sandbeds", and you'll find lots of good information. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Refugium Substrate Question 7/8/07 Crew, I have scoured the 5,000,000 refugium substrate FAQs and either I'm missing the answer or it's not there, so I'm sending it your way. I am setting up a 30 gallon refugium. <cool> My goal is to use macro (Chaetomorpha) for nutrient export and to also create a habitat for pods using aragonite. <It doesn't necessarily have to be aragonite. Copepods and amphipods like niches, holes and surface area. The macro algae will provide some of this. Another thing you can do is add rubble. I also use eggcrate.> I realize that pods will make their way to the fuge from my display (110g, 75 live rock), but I am going to add a few pieces of live rock to the fuge anyway. <good idea> So here's my question--what grain size do you recommend for the aragonite and how deep should it be? I have an extra 40lb bag of 1mm-4mm aragonite left over from when I set up my display. Should I shoot for something smaller and more consistent for pod growth? <As far as copepods and amphipods go, the sand grain size doesn't matter so much. But if you also want lots of worms and other benthic critters, a smaller grain sand would probably be better (1mm or smaller). If you don't want to spend a lot of money on new sand, you can use silicate (i.e. masonry) sand.> Gracias! Andy <De nada :) Sara M.>

Chemical filtration placement question for a hang-on refugium 6/24/07 Good evening, I first want to thank you for your site and all the great information, I don't know if I could have survived this hobby without it. My question is as follows: When adding chemical filtration, specifically Chemi-pure, where should I place it in a CPR hang on refugium/ skimmer unit. I just purchased Chemi-pure and had it in the compartment after the skimmer and now it seems that the Caulerpa in the refugium is turning white and breaking apart. I thought about putting it in front of the return portion of the unit, <Mmm> but I am fearful that the copepods and stuff that is supposed to leak into the main tank from the refugium wont. <Not to worry re this...> The only filtration I currently have is live rock and the CPR and would love to add the Chemical filtration, but the only option I have is to place it in the refugium. I used to use carbon in my Prizm and thought it really helped. I would therefore like to continue with the added filtration with my new set-up. Thank you in advance for all of your help!! Cory <Somewhere in the filter flow path, though not blocking same... toward the exit, return, though most anywhere in this unit would be fine... I would only switch such a product out once a month... using two would be best, leaving one in while changing the oldest each interval. Bob Fenner>

New Refugium, Substrate Mud Vs. Sand -- 05/08/07 Hi gang !! <What's Up Bob?!> I have a few questions for setting up a refugium for a 135 gallon fish/coral tank. <Try me'¦> The refugium will be in addition to my also using a separate large 30 gal sump with an ETSS Pro 800 downdraft skimmer. <Great, just make sure the skimmer is allowed to process water before the 'fuge.> I will be using a 50 gal refugium that is 36x18x18. <Awesome size!> Is this large enough? <Plenty, sounds great. Will make a HUGE difference as far as the aquariums stability by the added water volume alone.> What are the minimum and maximum flow rates I should have going thru the refugium? <Well I will note that people often do not have enough flow in their 'fuges, some are dang near stagnant. Having said that, depends on the targeted algae in the fuge' (if that's what you aim to do with it.> Should I use live sand or Miracle Mud in the refugium? <Pros and Con's to both. I recently had a very detailed discussion about this with one of our chat-forum members I will link you to it; http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=17&thread=42973&start=0&trange=15 .> How deep of a layer should that sand or mud bed be? <See the link my friend ^^ .> And finally, how deep should the water be from the top of the sand/mud bed be? I'm told that a shallow layer of water is better than a deeper layer. <As far as lighting yes, but in general the more volume (water/space) you can get out of it the better.> Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. <Anytime, and please do see the link, it's the LONG post about 5 posts down. It will the questions you posed re: mud vs. sand and how much.> Bob Drews, Ft. Lauderdale, FL <Adam Jackson in Southern, California.>

Refugium Causing Cyanobacteria and Nitrates? 3/28/07 Hi, <Hello Brian> Thanks, as always, for your great site! <Welcome> I have a 75 gallon tank (fish, live rock, 2 clams, 1 anemone, lots of snails & hermit crabs) with a CPR Aquatics AquaFuge Pro underneath. The refugium has a DSB comprised of miracle mud, a cheaper type of generic miracle mud, and some coarse sand/crushed shells. <Mmm, all mixed together? I would NOT do this> About two days after I installed the refugium, I put in a big mat of Chaetomorpha (sp?) algae. I ran the lighting 24/7 <Mmm... this algae is not able to "do" the light reactions of photosynthesis constantly... needs a daily dark phase...> (I believe it's an 18w 10000k). After about a week, the algae started to turn brown, then it started to come apart (small pieces were accumulating in the mesh between the main compartment of the refugium and the sump), then red slime started to grow on the algae, then the red slime spread throughout the refugium, then the algae almost disappeared entirely. Now, the red slime is out of control in the refugium, the algae is almost gone, and the nitrates in the tank are at 40 ppm (they used to be stable under 10 ppm at all times). What's going on? Do I need to add some kind of critters down there to keep the slime under control and to keep the nitrates lower? If so, sand-sifting stars, snails? <Uhh... Please read here re Refugiums: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm ... and re-read my comments above. Bob Fenner> Please help. Thanks, Brian

Small Refuge Setup for a Nano-Reef, subst. biota 3/27/07 Hello Bob ... greetings from Manila, Philippines. <And to you my friend, from Hawai'i's Big Island> I've spent many hours reading your FAQ's .. so much great information on your site. Thank you. I hope you'll have time to answer my questions. <Will try> I'm setting up a 20-gallon tank, first FOWLR then moving into SPS. I plan to go skimmerless. I'm planning on a 5.5-gallon refuge. <Okay> Given that I'm going skimmerless, do you think I at least need a 10-gallon refuge, or can I get away with 5.5-gallons? <"The bigger the better"...> Also given that it is a small tank, 14" tall, I'm planning the following: 2-inches Miracle Mud on the bottom, 4-inches sugar-fine sand, 2-inches crushed shell on top. <Mmm, I encourage you to somehow partition the "Mud" from the calcareous substrates... maybe with Siliconed glass partitions.> This leaves less than 5 inches for my water space/Chaeto. Is this water space too small? <Mmm, no. Not too small> I know your a fan of DSB's, but with a small tank, is this deep enough to encourage denitrification? Is this the correct order and depth? <Yes and yes> I've read about methane pockets that can occur in DSB's which crash systems. Some people stir up sand to release any small forming gases. Others feel that the sand should not be disturbed as it will interrupt the denitrification process (I think this is your stance). If I choose not to disturb the sand, how will I deal with methane gas pockets? <I would not disturb this sand bed> Is it a good idea to have any other critters in my refuge: i.e. hermit crabs <Mmm, no... are too predaceous> for any detritus, or larger brittle stars for sand movement? Regards, Jason B <I would leave these in if they were natural recruits... but otherwise just count on incidental recruiting of various invertebrate infauna from your live rock in the main tank here. Bob Fenner>

Re: Small Refuge Setup for a Nano-Reef 3/28/07 Bob, you're great! :) Thanks for replying. I have a reply to your reply. > <Mmm, I encourage you to somehow partition the "Mud" > from the calcareous substrates... maybe with > Siliconed glass partitions.> If I split the tank in two with a glass partition, one side would have 2-inch miracle mud on the bottom, and 6 inches of sand on top - the other side would have 4 inches of sand on the bottom, and 2 inches of crushed shell/rubble on top. Does this sound good? <Mmm, I'd add the larger shell/rubble right on top of the sand... the sand on the bottom, w/ or w/o a screen, the rubble on top. BobF> Jason

10" Miracle Mud & 10-Gallon DSB/Refugium - 04/04/07 Hello Buddies...quiet night here in Makati, Philippines, I'm Jason. <<Greetings Jason...EricR here again...and tis a beautiful 79-degree evening here in Columbia, SC as well>> I'm constantly changing my DSB/refuge design after reading so much on your site - this will be for a 20 gallon nano-SPS (skimmerless) tank (not yet running). <<I'm a huge fan of the DSB with macroalgae refugium methodology myself>> I thought a 10 gallon tank (12 inches high) would be fine. <<Thought about this myself in our earlier exchanges...not much volume to work with really>> However, 12-inches isn't deep enough, so I think I will have a custom made tank, still roughly 10-12 gallons. <<Mmm, do consider this...many public aquaria utilize refugiums of equal or greater volume than the displays they support>> After reading many of your FAQs and suggestions, an 8-inch sand bed, 2-inch crushed coral on top. <<Though it provides a differing habitat, the crushed coral is not "necessary">> That's 10 inches so far. I know a DSB can't be too deep, but will I still get the same effect if I have a total of 8 inches (6" for sand, and 2" for the crushed coral)? <<Would be fine>> I'll have an external pump on my main tank, pushing water up to my refuge thru a bulk head. <<I do recall>> I'll have the bulkhead 2-inches from the top (is this too low?) and 1.5 inches in diameter. <<Is fine>> So that's around 4-inches there. <<Ok>> Would 4-inches of water space be sufficient for Chaeto, or should this be deeper? <<Is all relative...the lower water depth simply means "pruning" the Chaetomorpha more often to "fit" the space>> So far, my running height of the tank would be 18-inches... That's gonna be taller than my main tank, and not exactly want I want displayed (since my refuge will also be shown, and not hidden). <<The biota in the refugium can be every bit as interesting as that in the "display" tank>> Can you guys help me shrink the size down ... while still having an effective DSB? <<Reducing the DSB to 6-inches will still be effective...and give you a bit more room for the macroalgae>> You guys also suggested that I could split the tank with a glass partition if I wanted to have some Miracle Mud... If I did that, I would have a 10" glass partition, one side to hold the sand/coral. the other to have 10" deep Miracle-Mud. is this wise? :) <<Might be worth the experimentation...but personally I wouldn't bother>> Thank you guys :) Jason <<Always welcome, EricR>>

Mixed substrate in refugium/sump 1/27/07 I am in the process of setting up my new 75 gallon reef tank with a 37 gallon sump. I am currently running Miracle Mud in the sump on my 65 gallon but want to use both a DSB and the Miracle Mud in my new setup. Bob told me in an earlier email that is best to have separate chambers for the different substrates as opposed to layering them in one area. <Yes, this is so> My new sump is tall enough that I had to build a platform in the skimmer section of the sump to raise the skimmer to its optimal operating depth. The platform consists of 6 PVC pipes cut 3 ½ inched long and glued to stand on end. <With holes, notches... to allow some water movement within> On top of this is a piece of egg crate material the size of the compartment that the skimmer will sit on. Can I utilize the 11 x 16 x 3 ½ inches of space beneath the skimmer for my Miracle Mud? <Mmm, yes> The egg crate material would allow for water flow and I would spread a thin layer of sand on top of the mud to keep it in place and hold down on the silting. The DSB could then go in the 14 x 16 x 18 inch space. Do you see this as a viable option? <I do believe so> Thanks for being there for us. Mike <Thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>

One comment and two questions, Aqua-C, mud in a 'fuge and feeding Scler. 1/27/07 Hello WWM Crew, <Bart/holomew!> Thanks you so much for the wonderful service you provide. I wanted to comment on the great service I received recently from one of your sponsors. I love my Aqua-C skimmer! The O-ring dried out and cracked (as O-rings do). I made one phone call, waited two days and TWO new O-rings arrived in the mail. No muss, no fuss, and NO CHARGE! <Hee heee, Freeeeeee!> This is a great company and they will be skimming for me till I no longer need to skim. Now, two quick questions if I may: I am running a closed-loop return manifold that I constructed using Anthony's informative article on my 72 gallon bow-front reef system. It was fun to build and works great with the old-style external Quiet-One pump that I have. My question has to do with the intake. I used my miter-saw to make cuts half-way through a ¾" piece of PVC to make a strainer. Over this I have placed a coarse sponge filter to keep the tiny snails I have all over my tank from getting into the pump. <Good design> I dislike the sponge filter because I have to clean it and because I suspect it is a source of nitrate in my tank. It is the only mechanical filter I have on the system as I use a refugium and skimming for water treatment. Do you think I could remove the sponge? <Mmm, no, I'd leave it, or something similar in place... as a screen> Would the tiny snails be able to stop the pump? <Possibly, yes... and/or cause trouble in being crushed, dissolving...> Secondly, I have an assortment of Caulastrea and Euphyllia corals (widely spaced, of course). Do you have a recommendation as to a food of the appropriate particle size for feeding these animals? <A mix of live or frozen/defrosted zooplankters... "of small size", 1/16" diameter nominally will do> I suspect the Mysis I feed the fish is a bit large for these corals to utilize. <Yes, likely so> Thanks again for the good work you do. Best Regards, Bart V <Welcome... Oh and please do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/faviidfdgfaqs.htm and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/caryfdgfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Unasked Refugium Questions? Around Here? Not Likely. - 1/24/07 Hi everyone, <Hey Pam, JustinN with you tonight.> back with another question, AND, I'll bet no one has asked this yet!! <I'd honestly be a bit surprised -- it is kind of a rarity around these parts...> I just set up my refugium (24X15X4) and added live aragonite and mineral mud. The mud container says to let it sit for 3 days without powering up the refuge! Three days?!!! Is this correct/ necessary? <Depends how much the clouding of your aquarium would bother you. If you do not wait this duration, you will likely end up with a dusty-looking display.> Also, the total depth of these additives will be about 5&1/2 inches. PLEASE, don't say this is too deep! I'll be adding a nice piece of Feather Caulerpa and some live rock. Can't wait to hear from you!! Thanks Pam <May I suggest foregoing Caulerpa sp. algaes, and instead, go with Chaetomorpha? The reason being, Caulerpa sp. run a risk of going sexual and infesting your aquarium to plague proportions, aside from not doing as good a job at nutrient removal as Chaetomorpha. Chaetomorpha does not go sexual, is easier to trim, provides a living space for numerous beneficial creatures, and will consume your wastes and phosphates faster to boot. The choice is yours, but do research this choice before you make it. Cheers! -JustinN> Removing sand from a refugium 1/21/07 <Hi Keith.> I bought a nice 55 gallon tank with a 20 gallon refugium from someone who had a long-standing reef tank and refugium. <Good deal. I love used equipment almost as much as new!> He is located about 45 minutes away. <Good to know... ;) > He gave me a really good deal as he was got a nice 120 gallon setup. <???> We planned it out and I went and picked it up about 2 or 3 months ago. He kept the tank running for me as he took about two weeks while slowly adding things to his new setup. We kept most of the water and transported the refugium as carefully as possible to try to keep the bacteria alive to help cycle the tank. <Should not be a problem if sand was kept moist at all.> I had 40 gallon with about 70 pounds of live rock, a Mandarin <sic> goby, liverock, aragonite <sic> sand, a cardinal, Astrea nail <[Sighing, shaking head...] Nail?>, a 10 gallon refugium underneath the tank with some Chaetomorpha. <Sounds good so far.> I got the new tank back to my house and got it set up as quickly as possible, but did make a mistake with salinity for a day or two and then got the salinity correct<ed,> then waited a few days and slowly started transporting the contents of my tank to the new tank. <What constitutes a "mistake with salinity"? A few days may turn out to be a little short on the wait for a potential re-cycle.> I tested the water for a few days and all seemed well. <Mmm... ok.> I didn't add anything else to the tank for about a month and then added 10 Astrea snails. I added some base rock I had in the process as well which as starting to look alive again. <That is a good thing indeed.> Recently, I had a red slime outbreak (Cyano) and started noticing the live rock was fading. I did some reading on your site and read about phosphates and couldn't figure out where they were coming from. <Food, water change...> After reading and chatting with a few friends, I look back and realized I was probably feeding to<o> much food<,> <Mm-hmm.> so I cut back feeding to every other day and did a few water changes over the next month but it was still present. So I did the following after doing some research: Added some Caulerpa to my refugium, <Good, will compete for nutrients with BGA.> Added light in the refugium (was a 60 watt house light I kept on all the time) with the purchase of a 12 inch 36 watt Coralife compact fluorescent. <Likely, will be more than enough.> Changed his power compact light he had (it was about a year old) and got a new one <Ok.> Added a carbon bag to the refugium getting some good flow main tank. <Hmm?> Purchased a pair of phosphate pads where you keep one in for 24 hours then discard, and put the second one in for 48 hours then discard along with some Cyano powder you can add to the tank which has gotten rid of the Cyano before I even discarded the first pad) <Uh-oh, sounds like a possible E.M. or similar product aimed at killing the BGA, instead of reducing the levels of it's required elements. We used to use Erythromycin in the 90's to try to get rid of Cyano and snot algaes, but it had the undesired effect of killing of your beneficial nitrifying bacteria as well as basically dispersing the Cyano in dissolved form (bad) into the water column.> Also siphoned some sand out of the main tank, rinsed it thoroughly making almost free of anything and placed it back in the tank. <Not neccessary.> Added a powerful powerhead (Rio 2100) getting some good circulation plus another standard powerhead <Very good step in thwarting BGA.> Here are some questions I hope you can help me out with. <Will try...> 1. After thinking about it, I would think that I would have a ton of die-off in my sand. <In the form of ammonia, not usually phosphate.> When I got the tank, he left me an inch or two of Southdown sand in the main tank and probably about 5 inches of Southdown in the refugium that he had up for years. Can I siphon all of this sand out of the refugium, then just add about 3 inches back in the refugium with hurting the natural cycle of the tank? Any bacteria there I should worry about? <I would just add to the existing substrate, as I don't see a need for removal of the older, established schtuff.> 2. I recently found some ar<a>gonite sand filling about half a bucket. I rinsed it thoroughly and added some to main tank. A week later, I vacuumed some more sand out, rinsed it thoroughly, and added it back to the tank. Is this ok to do every two weeks or so, or even every week? <Above and beyond what is required, here. Furthermore, any rinsing of established media (LS, LR etc.) should be done in tank-water.> I love my Mandarin <mandarin> who has been with me for 3 years, and don't want to disrupt the sand bed, but want to get rid of any die off<.> <You are overreacting, IMO.> I know I must have gotten that aiding the phosphates? <If you allow the new system to properly cycle, and confirm the cycle with testing, you should have no probs. I would expect the cycle to be quite abbreviated.> Let's say I took out a little sand here and there each water change then adding it back after rinsing thoroughly. <Cut that out! ;) > 3. On my current refugium, I now have the Coralife lighting, but I did leave the 60 watt bulb shining down on the 20 gallon refugium, is this ok or two <too> much light? <Mmmm... probably, yes. Do some searching re lighting requirements for refugiums.> Thanks again for your help and taking part the most informative/educational aquatic website I know to date. I stay glued to the site! <Thanks for participating! -Graham T.>

Fuge substrate question-DSB, MMud, both? 12/31/06 Hello to all, thanks as always for your contribution to this great site and our hobby! My question should be a quick one this time. I have dedicated a 12x14" fuge in my 55 gal sump(120 gal tank). I have read and read about sumps, DSB's, MMud and fuges but I can't find a straight answer for my setup. What is the best substrate setup and can I layer this for better function and to keep the mud down? <Mmm, the arrangement of baffles and subdued water flow is useful here> I have plenty of pink Fiji, crushed shells, 1-20lb bag of live sand and 2 gallons (16lbs) on Carib Sea's mineral Mud and plenty of small live rock rubble to add. I have a recovering Imperator with HLLE and want to use the Mud.?? <Again, useful here> I was thinking about the crushed shells on the bottom 2" then the sand for 2" then the mud for 2" then more sand for 2" to keep the mud from flowing all over. How does this sound? <Mmm... the mud will still get about in time... do shoot for a slow flow rate of water through the refugium area... a handful of turn-overs per hour or so> Should I not use the shells? <Up to you... I would> I figured it would be good for critters. Is there any preferred order in layering a substrate for the fuge? <Mmm... yes... the easier-mixed material on the bottom either by itself or blended with other material (calcareous is better to reduce the chances of too-much reduction/acidic chemical behavior and its consequences), with some less-voluble material on top...> Is layering not recommended? <By some... Depending on what all is being layered IMO...> Also, what is your most recommended algae to grow in the fuge? <Likely Chaetomorpha and/or Gracilaria currently. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugalgfaqs.htm and the linked files above> Thanks again for your time. Randy <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Fuge substrate question-DSB, MMud, both? 1/2/07 Bob, Thanks for your response. I guess I should have included that the fuge is fed on one side of the 55 sump with the skimmer on the other side with both draining to the middle pump area. So, yes I do have a separate feed for the fuge that is completely controllable. <Great to know, have arranged on your part> With this said, What would be the best order and depth for the following additions? For both efficiency and flow control issues low flow)? What should I, and should I not use? crushed shells live Arag. sand 2 gallons Carib sea Mineral Mud Lots of dried pink Fiji <Mmm, all the Mud first, then the two sandy substrates mixed together (rinsed first), then the shells on top> Thanks again and Happy New Year! Randy <And to you as well. Bob Fenner>

Refugiums...Chaeto Without Sand?? 10/16/06 I am about to go pick some Chaetomorpha up for my first refugium ever, but I had a question first. I have been reading over the website about having sand beds in your refugium but I talked to the owner at the local fish store and he said if you use Chaeto that you don't need sand because its not a rooting macroalgae can I get away without adding a sand bed. <You could, but you are defeating the purpose of having a refugium. The sand/mud provides a habitat for all the beneficial critters that will consume your detritus/organic matter. "Miracle Mud" also has the advantage of supplying calcium and iodine to the system. In my opinion, a good product. Read here and linked files above, for more info on refugiums. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm> Thanks. <You're welcome, James (Salty Dog)>

Refugiums...Chaeto Without Sand?? - III - 10/20/06 I have changed my mind about adding a sand bottom to my refugium after what you told me. But I am adding Carib sea mineral mud, a one gallon container, not sand. My refugium is 12"x14" in my sump. I made my sump using the pressure locking sump baffles article. But anyways, will this be enough mud to cover what I need in this relatively small space and will a refugium this size have a positive effect on a 120 gallon system. <One and a half to two inches of mud should be fine. Any refugium will have a positive effect on a system.> And the critters you were talking about how do they end up in the main display or am I just confused here. <Generally find their way there from the live rock. You can also jump start it by adding some copepods to the refugium.> And what kind of critters should be in there. <Pods, small worms, etc.> And what is the best way of getting them. <Fresh live rock will usually contain enough critters for a starter cultivation. Have you read the links I've posted?> Thank you for all your help. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Refugium Substrate Questions Hi folks, <Scott F. with you tonight> I am going to be upgrading my 4 yr old reef tank (55G w/hang-on filter) to a 75G w/30G sump/refugium. I plan to seed the refugium with some of the seasoned crushed coral/aragonite mix from the old tank. What substrate(s) & depths would you suggest for the tank & sump, for best biological filtration? None of the inhabitants require anything out of the ordinary. <You can use a course substrate if you're trying to cultivate amphipods, medium for copepods, a deep, fine substrate for enhanced denitrification> Even though I am transferring water & live rock & corals into the new system, will the tank "cycle" due to new substrate in the main tank? <In all likelihood, yes. Do test ammonia/nitrite for a week or two before adding new inhabitants> I am planning on weekly 10% water changes, siphoned from the main tank gravel only, never touching the gravel in the refugium. Is this the correct approach?<if you have a fairly deep sand bed (greater than 3 inches), you really should not disturb the sand bed in the main tank. Ditto for the refugium. You don't want to disrupt the nitrifying processes occurring in the sand bed(s)> Thanks to whichever of you is kind enough to answer, and special thanks to Bob for TCMA. Could you please write similar guides to finance, parenting, and car repair? ;-) Scott <How about it, Bob!><<Easily done. Bob F.>>

Refugium Question - 09/10/06 Greeting from California: <And to you from lousy Michigan> Once again I find myself turning to the WWM crew for advice, you guys are AWESOME!!! I am adding a refugium to supply food for the 125gal reef tank of softy corals, fish, cucumbers and crabs/snails. With the main tank being DSB of sugar sand and live rock, am I missing the boat by also doing a DSB/live rock in the refugium, or would I be better off with Miracle Mud or something else?? As for plants was going with Chaetomorpha as the macro algae. <You're not missing the boat, but my choice would be Miracle Mud. It does supply a good deal of calcium and iodine to the system. The Chaeto will do just fine.> Thanks again for shining the light at the end of the tunnel. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Randy Small Refugium DSB - 07/26/06 I made a 5 gallon refugium that sits behind my main tank, a ten gallon, with the goals of nutrient export, pod production, pH stability and increased water volume. <<Excellent>> I was planning on putting Chaetomorpha, live rock rubble, and some sand in this refugium and running it on a reverse photoperiod. <<Okay>> My question is would I see any benefits from a deep sand bed in this size refugium (the sand area's footprint would be 5"X15") or would I be better of with a shallow sand bed and more water volume? <<Everything is relative my friend...considering the small size of the display, this particular DSB could indeed provide some benefit>> Thanks a lot for any help you can give me. Eli <<Is my pleasure to assist. Regards, EricR>>

Refugiums ... flow, DSB 6/1/06 Hello Sir or Ma'am <James today> I have a question that has not seemed to have been asked (I have looked for the past 3 days for the answer) I am setting up a 35 gallon refugium for my 200 gallon reef tank. My tank is about 3 weeks old (if that is of any interest or relevance). I am planning on attaching a Maxi-Jet 1200 or Mag 3.5 for flow. I will be pumping up the water from the sump and then draining it back into it. My question is this: I would like to run a fuge with Chaetomorpha and an 8 inch DSB. I will be running a reverse lighting schedule. I am wondering if that flow will either be too much for the Chaeto or too little to properly provide aeration for the DSB. I understand, per Bob F., that he likes only a little flow over Chaetomorpha and doesn't buy into tumbling it. I also would like some tips for maintaining a DSB other then "stirring" it lightly once a month and adding a inch or so a year. <Matt do read here and related links above on both sites. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm Thanks again <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Matt

Live Rock In The Refugium - 04/28/06 Hey everyone, <<Hey Marc!>> I am keen for some advice regarding the refugium I have set up for my 120 gallon tank. <<Okey Dokey>> I have several pieces of live rock in my tank that have green hair algae growing on them. The algae is by no means out of control and I must admit I don't mind a little hair algae and consider it just another component of a reef system. <<Ahh, me too!>> My question is regarding the use of one of these pieces of rock in my refugium. I have a wonderful piece that is directly under my main sump return that has a myriad of life including hair algae, coralline algae, small sponges growing on it and other life such as inverts etc. Would this piece be an ideal candidate for the refugium of would the hair algae pose any ongoing issues? <<Nope...would be just fine>> I would also like some advice regarding circulation. <<Ok...use lots of it <G> >> I have a manifold around the top of the tank with four outlets (each corner) putting out around 500-600 gallons in total and the return from my sump an extra 500-600 gallons. On top of this I circulate around 500 gallons through the rock work to try to minimize detritus build up in between and below the rocks. The main concern I have is the effect on my LPS corals such as the goni's and frogspawn. They are pushed around in all directions quite vigorously and I am worried this may have some longer term impact on them. <<It will...a positive impact. As long as you are not "blasting" them directly, the random turbulent flow you describe is quite welcome and beneficial>> Although currently they seem to open well and look healthy. <<Indeed!>> Have I gone with too much flow or should I maintain it considering I am adding some varied SPS corals to the tank currently. <<You're fine mate, you could even add a bit more>> Thanks for any help and thanks for the advice on the calcium reactor. <<Mmm...don't know who that was, but like me, I'm sure they were happy to assist>> P.S. - I am super keen to get to the states to get a chance to get to some of the conferences/expos you have. We have very little opportunity in Australia for this type of gathering. <<Is a shame...these conferences are truly a blast!>> Cheers, Marc <<Take care my friend, EricR>>

Any Trouble With Rubble? (Use of Live Rock Rubble In Refugium) - 04/16/06 Just curious to your thoughts on using the 'mud' and assorted silt/debris from the bottom of a retailer liverock tub to top off crushed coral/sand substrate in a refugium? <As a big fan of the use of "rubble" in our systems, I'd give you unabashed support for using this stuff! As long as the rubble has already been "cured", and won't be a source of a possible ammonia spike after introduction, I'd definitely use it. It's an excellent microhabitat and possible food source or foraging area for many fishes and invertebrates. Yes, it could accumulate some detritus, but this stuff is a natural food source and the possible drawbacks of detritus in our systems may be overstated, in my humble opinion.> I'm using Steven Pro's Aquaclear 500 DIY fuge and so far working great, but I'd like to boost my pod populations. I'm faced with purchasing cultured pods (all the liverock added to the tank was dried base rock), or wondering if using some of the above mentioned 'mud' would add in sufficient numbers. <Well, more coarse substrates and rubble tend to harbor populations of copepods, but I'd recommend a starter culture either from a source like Ocean Pods (BTW, the owner, Adelaide Rhodes, is pretty much THE authority on copepods!) or Indo Pacific Sea Farms, or even from the refugium of a friend's aquarium.> Are there drawbacks to using this material (flat worms, etc) and would it introduce too many organics to the system. <Like with any living creature that you add to your aquarium, I strongly recommend quarantine (yep- even for rock!) as a first line of defense against the introduction of potentially unwanted "guests". This material, in my experience, is no more problematic to use than any other live rock, with the possible exception that you may find the diversity of life that accumulates in rubble over time fascinating, and set up an all rubble system!> I'm in the process of getting some Chaetomorpha to add to the fuge, to give them food source/shelter, but just wondered your thoughts on the use of the material in aquaria. <Go for it!> A secondary question, in the display tank (20L) with crushed coral/shell mix substrate, I'm getting quite an accumulation of bubbles on both the rock and the substrate. The areas that are effected are primarily in the path of the return from the above mentioned fuge. I usually use a turkey baster several times a day to blow them off the rocks and substrate. Since I can't really decrease the flow (total of about 850 gph from the powerfilter, fuge and skimmer), are there any shifters I could introduce that wouldn't have trouble with the coral/shell substrate? <Usually, you'd be limited to creatures that work in the top layer of substrate material, so I'm thinking that certain starfishes, shrimp, and possibly some fishes (such as Ctenochaetus species Tangs, which rasp diatoms and detritus from substrate materials) would work. Take into account the bioload capacity of your tank before proceeding with additions, of course.> From what I see most of the benthic macro inverts seem to be marketed toward sand substrates with little mention of any other substrates. <Agreed. You'll need to do some homework here on WWM and elsewhere on line.> As always, keep up the good work and thanks for being an aquarist's best resource for all things wet. <That's what we do! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Refugium Plumbing/DSB - 04/15/06 Hi, <<Hello>> I have a 200 gallon reef aquarium. It currently has a Tunze filtration system and Tunze protein skimmer that sit on a rail system along the top of the aquarium. The 200 gallon has a 4-5" DSB with Aragamax sugar-sized sand. <<Excellent>> As you can imagine that is a lot of sand. <<Mmm...yes...my 375 gallon tank has 950 lbs. of the stuff (Southdown)...with another 250 lbs. in the refugium>> The way the tank is drilled or lack there of is making it difficult to plumb a refugium, but we will try anyway. <<Ok>> We have a 46 gallon tank with a wet/dry that we will turn into a refugium. <<Ah, good>> Can we use the sand from the main tank to fill the 46 gallon? Will too much beneficial bacteria be killed in the move? <<Bacteria, and other micro-/macro- life will be destroyed, yes. Why not fill the refugium with dry sand with a "heavy seeding" from the sand in the display/other aquarist tanks?>> Will it put undo stress on our fish? <<Is a possible stressor to the whole system>> I want to do whatever is going to benefit the fish. So if that means leaving the main tank alone and buying new sand that is what we will do. <<Unless you're planning to remove the fish and "restart" this tank I would use new sand and seed it as mentioned.>> We were thinking 8 - 10" sand bed in the 'fuge. <<Sounds good to me...am a big fan of deep sand beds>> We want whatever is going to help us with our nitrate issues. <<I see>> We usually have 20ppm and I want that down to 0. <<Indeed, much to high for a reef system...but zero-nitrates is not necessarily good either. For the benefit of your corals, a nitrate reading of about 3ppm can provide some much appreciated nutrient benefit>> I figure the added filtration will help. <<As in DSB?...yes>> Our system is going to be very difficult to plumb the refugium. There is no place for an overflow box. <<Can you lower the water a bit...drill a throughput high on the backside?>> The access ports are the only openings and have a 6" gap to the side of the tank. <<An acrylic tank then? Will be quite easy to add some bulkheads>> Plus we have a hood that covers the entire tank. I posted to the WetWebMedia Chat Forum in hopes to get some suggestions. Nothing so far. I even posted a diagram of what our tank looks like from the top. Any ideas from you would be great. <<Spend some time reading here ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbholesfaqs.htm) and researching among the linked threads. I think your best option is to drop the water level in the tank a few inches and drill a/some holes through the back/side of the tank for bulkhead fittings. My tank is a "in-wall" unit viewable from front and back...I drilled holes for 6 bulkheads through the end panels 1 3/4" inches from the top, which feed both my sump and refugium...it is do=able>> Thank you, Jeri <<Quite welcome. Regards, EricR>> Refugium Confusion? Question about Mineral Mud in a refugium - 04/04/2006 Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I bought a CPR Small Refugium. I am going to hang it off the side of my sump. I have a 56 gallon main tank. I really liked the section in the book 'Reef Invertebrates' about refugiums. The main purpose of the refugiums is to harvest food for a Mandarin Goby that I am planning to get. I would also like to place some Macro Algae in the refugium as well. I bought some Mineral Mud and was wondering if it is ok to make the bed like 3 inches deep and then top it off with some sand? <I see nothing wrong with that, myself.> Do I need to top it off with the sand? What are the benefits to that? <You don't have to top it off with sand, but it will help keep the mud from getting back into the display tank due to flow.> What is the ideal depth for the mineral mud in the refugium? Thanks, Jason <I'd shoot for two inches or so, myself. This will be a sufficient depth for many macroalgae to establish themselves. Good luck with your 'fuge! Regards, Scott F.> Refugiums/Substrate/Husband Driving Wife Nuts - 04/02/06 Hi Crew, <Hi Kris> Your advice please. My husband is driving me crazy (not that you can help that), but he's planning out his reef and refugium and has me surfing nonstop for info. OK, the latest crisis is what to put in the bottom of the refugium. He had settled on a DSB and now someone put the bug in his ear about Miracle Mud and that it's the only thing that will work in a refugium. So to mud or not? I can't find a definite answer in your archives. Is this stuff really that great? <I'm presently doing an evaluation on a system that is using Miracle Mud. This was started 2/1/06 and to date, it appears beneficial. My calcium levels remain normal without adding any supplements although I do test on a regular basis for same. The mud is supposedly high in trace elements including iodine. I have noticed since using the mud that the yellow polyp colony has increased its population more so than without the mud.> Mud brings me to my other question. We live in south Florida and there are mangroves in abundance. Could I go dig up some mangrove mud and bring it home for the refugium or am I asking for bigger problems? <I wouldn't, believe that mud is going to be very high in nutrients. James (Salty Dog)> Kris

Refugium/Substrate - 04/02/06 James, Thanks for the quick reply. So if we go w/ the MM what's the deal with only a 1 inch depth of substrate in the display tank? We've already put in a 3 inch bed of Carib Sea Aragamax select (not live sand). Is this not going to work now? <The Miracle Mud is for the refugium only, not the entire tank. James (Salty Dog)> P.S. I didn't think using natural mud from the mangroves would work, but thought it was worth asking on the slim chance it would. Kris

Travertine As Bio Material? - 02/25/06 Hello. <<Howdy>> I got some great advice today. Thanks to everyone. <<Welcome>> Just one question that is not anywhere on the site. (Now it will be.) <<Ok>> My LFS sold me about 30lbs Travertine <<?>> for biological filtration in my sump. <<curious>> I can't find a single person with Google who uses this. <<Likely not>> This worries me. Thoughts? <<Firstly, I don't think you need worry...no harm should come to your system from this material...though that doesn't mean the possibility of introducing a contaminate is ruled out. My knowledge of Travertine is as a material used for decorative stonework in up-scale homes/buildings. Though it is a calcium carbonate/CaCO3 based material, it is fine grained/dense (polishes up nicely) and less than a good choice as a bio-media in my opinion. It likely won't hurt your tank, but I doubt it will help much either. You would be better off replacing this with ordinary live rock rubble for biological filtration.>> Thanks in advance, Christopher <<Regards, EricR>> Refugium Substrate/Dosing Kalkwasser - 02/18/06 Hi Crew, <<Howdy>> Still reading and learning on a daily basis here - kudos to you all on the provision of such a fantastic resource. <<Thank you, a collective effort.>> 55 Gallon (200 litre) main tank (cube), Miracle Mud ecosystem sump, 150w MH - almost ready for salt water - yippee!! <<Yea!!!>> Main Tank substrate (aragonite) to be ½" or less deep (aesthetic rather than functional here & more natural than bare bottom for livestock I think). <<Me thinks so as well.>> I'm confused on grain size but thinking of CaribSea Fiji Pink (0.5-1.5mm grain size) ideally non live (cheaper & I'll have LR anyway so life/bacteria should colonize) but might be "live" (bacterial only) depending on what I can find in the UK, would this be a suitable choice regarding composition and particle size? Or should I go finer? <<The Fiji Pink will be fine.>> Would this substrate need a rinse at all or just straight in after LR (positioned directly on tank base)? <<For a new setup rinsing is not necessary.>> It seems from my reading that it will settle & the fine aragonite "dust" will be beneficial anyway. <<Agreed>> In this thin sand bed I plan narcissus snails <<Nassarius>> or similar, how many should I aim for (55 gal tank 24" cube ½" deep bed)? <<I'd start with a dozen or so.>> Connected to this is my choice of substrate for a 2nd refugium (to be added at a later date). Am I right in thinking that the MM/Chaeto fuge would be quite good for copepod, phytoplankton and zooplankton production? <<Yes>> In which case would I be better selecting a larger particle size for the 2nd fuge substrate to encourage bio diversity - amphipods etc. or would something similar to the Fiji Pink be more appropriate (probably going to be 4-5" deep here) & concentrate on copepods etc? <<I think the Fiji Pink would serve well here also.>> Main sump is Miracle Mud with Chaetomorpha, I understand that some people light 24/7 (mainly Caulerpa growers to hold in stasis) however Anthony Calfo (fantastic coral prop book by the way! - great resource for us learning reef keepers/moist gardeners) recommends a more natural photoperiod & I agree - would a 10-12 hour lighting duration be appropriate here? (mud bed is 11 ½" x 10" lit by 20w PC spot lamp @ 6500k) <<Indeed...on a cycle opposite that of the display tank to assist with pH elevation.>> I plan to install lots of LR - would 1 - 1.5 lb per gal be about right bearing in mind the miracle mud/Chaeto filtration? <<I think you could/should get by with less, especially considering your addition of the refugiums. Less rock will actually look better and give your fish room to swim.>> Views seem to differ regarding the lighting of LR whilst it is curing, my LR will be shop cured (however I understand some further curing/die off is likely). <<Yes...unless the rock has been at the shop for some weeks/months you will likely experience a cycle.>> In this instance collective wisdom seems to indicate that LR should be cured lit, is this likely the best approach? <<Subjective...but I ran my lights over mine while curing.>> When the tank is up & running I'm probably going to run the MH lamp for 8 - 10 hours per day and 7-8" above the water line if you think this is appropriate, would this lighting duration be suitable for finishing off the cure of the LR? <<Would be fine...I'd increase the light period to 10-12 hours once you begin stocking.>> I use RO/DI water for my water changes and top off, water change water is heated & aerated for 24hrs before being buffered, another 24hrs before being salted & generally sits about for another day or two before use so should always be nicely aged. <<Excellent!>> I tend to split some of this off for top off after its been buffered (before salted obviously!). For the new tank I plan to install an auto top-off with a reservoir (20-30 litres) would this reservoir need to be aerated/stirred continuously or would it be ok just sitting? <<Should be fine without aeration.>> (1.5 litres or thereabouts top off per day) I'm assuming it won't need heating. <<If added in small increments throughout the day it will be fine.>> I am also considering a weak Kalkwasser solution for top-off or would this be better dripped at night? <<I prefer to add Kalkwasser through the use of a Kalk-reactor in conjunction with my auto top-off, but using a nightly drip is quite acceptable as well...I say use whichever is most convenient for you.>> I'll be in touch for you to cast your eyes over my stocking list soon if that's OK. <<I look forward to it.>> Many thanks, Chris <<Cheers Chris... EricR>> Refugium Methodology...Reverse Flow DSB? - 02/11/06 Hi, <<Hello>> I have a 210g reef tank (200lbs. LR and a large number of corals) with a 40g sump and a 40g refugium. <<cool>> Lighting is an Aquamedic space light with 3-250W 20K HQI. My skimmer is an Aquamedic model, not sure of the model number but I have found it to be excellent. <<ok>> The pump for the return is a Dolphin 3000gph. I have been toying around with various ideas to try to improve on the refugium because it's not doing what it is supposed to do which is act primarily as a nitrate reducer. <<I see...>> In talking to various people, I came across an idea that intrigued me but have not been able to verify it. In a nutshell, it uses a plenum (~2"tall) and has approximately 5-6" of sand on top. <<You don't need the plenum...>> The interesting part is that a pipe is run under the plenum and water is slowly pushed thru the sand and then returns to the main tank. <<Hmm...ok>> I have not been able to verify the effectiveness of this, and while I don't mind experimenting, I would prefer not to do anything that would have a truly detrimental affect. Any ideas would be great. <<I'm not familiar with this methodology...for my two cents, I would employ a simple lighted vegetable refugium with a 6" sugar-fine DSB and Chaetomorpha algae. But if you're interested, do set up a test system as described, and let us know your findings.>> L <<Regards, E >>

Refugium Methodology...Reverse Flow DSB? II - 02/13/06 Wow! Thanks for the fast reply. <<Welcome>> I'll try the DSB with sugar fine sand and algae. I'll find a tank and set up the test and let you know. Again, thanks for such a fast reply. L <<I look forward to hearing about the results. EricR>>

Half sand/half mud refugium 2/10/06 Hi guys. <David> Dave here from Colorado. I have designed and built my own hob refugium for my 50 gal. marine tank. First of all the specs: The refugium is 36" long, 5" deep, and 12" high. I have designed a support system to keep the weight off the back of the tank. <Good, considerable> I wanted to go with as much volume as possible, and still have it attached to the back of the aquarium. I will still have enough room on the back of the main tank for mechanical filtration, and plan to move my skimmer to the side of the tank, my two power heads for cross current will also fit in this set up. I designed the baffles in such a way that will (hopefully!) keep the turbulence to a minimum, since I wanted to primarily use Miracle Mud as the substrate. I am going to use a Maxijet 900 (230gph) for the water flow. I put a 4 1/2" tall divider in the middle of the refugium, in case I wanted to experiment and use a 2" bed of Miracle Mud in one half of the refugium, and a 4" sugar grain sized aragonite live sand bed in the other half. I also am going to put in 7-10 lbs. of good live rubble rock as well. My main tank has 60 lbs. live rock & 60 lbs. of live sand. I have 6 fish in my 50 gallon tank (a pair of true Perculas, a Royal Gramma, a Six Line Wrasse, a Cherub/Pygmy Angel and a Humbug Damsel that my wife won't let me trade-in). All are healthy and doing well-no discernable problems. I also have a rose bubble Anenome (I think I know what you're going to say about that!) that the Perculas go crazy over-the Anenome is doing well in a 1 1/2" PVC pipe wedged in the rock. I have the usual assortment of snails & sand sifters, 5 hermit crabs and 2 shrimp (one peppermint and 1 cleaner shrimp). I also have some star polyps that appear to be thriving. My water parameters are good, ) 0 ammonia & nitrite, .1 PPM Nitrate, pH 8.3, specific gravity at 1.023. I want to eventually keep a few soft corals (not a lot) along with what I've got (although I do want to replace the Damsel with something else!). <Best leave it...> Now for my 3 questions (drum roll!)- 1. I am now leaning toward going the half mud/half sand substrate route in the refugium, instead of all mud-do you see any potential problems with that, or am I better off going with just one type of substrate for the refugium? <I would experiment as you state, with both> 2. I'm thinking of trying Gracilaria in one half of the refugium and Chaetomorpha in the other half-the way I've designed it they (hopefully!) shouldn't intermingle a lot, but will they emit toxins to try to eliminate each other? If so, which one would you go with? <Both here as well> 3. If I can ever talk my wife into trading in the Damsel, is there any small/miniature/dwarf Tang that you know of that could feasibly do well in a set up like this?!!! <Mmm, not really... for the long-haul... next, larger tank...> Thank you-your site has been very helpful, I scour it all the time! Dave <Me too my friend, me too. Bob Fenner> Refugium setup 1/25/06 Hi WWM Crew, My question deals with setting up a refugium. Although these questions may be basic, I have not seen them asked I have a 27 gallon, 20 inch high acrylic aquarium on the way that I plan to setup alongside my 75 gallon 8 month old reef tank. After reading your FAQs, I am settling on a six inch DSB of sugar fine aragonite. My question is regarding the setup. I figure that adding new sand and water to the refugium and then immediately hooking it up to the main tank could cause stress/death on the inhabitants in my tank. <Mmm, not so...> I picture cloudy/out-of-balance water pouring into my reef tank. <Pre-rinse and allow the fine substrate to settle... add a bit of the "old water" to this tank... leave be for a week or two...> Since the fuge is so large, should I set it up independently, possibly with some water/sand/rock from the main display, and let it cycle for a month or so? <Oh! Yes> If so, how can I then slowly and effectively bring the two tanks to equilibrium (i.e. the water parameters)? Again, I ask this because the fuge is so large (about 35% of the main tank volume). <"Boris Karloff" (mix the water back and forth with a pitcher.) With or sans blood-curdling laughter> Also, to jumpstart pod growth, I was planning on adding "Ocean Pods". How long should I let the fuge settle/cycle before adding these? <The month or so> Since my gravel will be fairly fine, will Gracilaria algae and a few Shaving Brush plants be sufficient for pod growth....or will I need Chaetomorpha? <Mmm, in this sized refugium I might try two or all three> Finally, my goal is to successfully keep a mandarin. Do you find that pod reproduction/growth would decline over time; would I need to supply my fuge with something like "ocean pods" on a monthly/etc. basis? Thanks again, Tim <Only time/experience can/will tell... but I give you good odds that "this will do it" if there is not too much food competition in your main system. Bob Fenner> Vague questions/answers re lighting, refugium substrates 1/16/06 Hello, I was wondering what is the best combination of bulbs for my 440 watt VHO setup. I know it is a bit inadequate but I would like to keep an SPS toward the top. It is 4 bulbs and I can choose URI's day sun, actinic white and actinic blue. Whatever combo will provide the most useable light for the corals. <Likely the whites in the 10-15k range> Also, I was just making sure... as for the sandbed in my fuge, all I need to do is have a sandbed with no plenum or anything like that right? <Please see WWM re... there are many design options, alternatives. Most folks avoid plenums as unnecessary, but some leave out substrates as well. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help, Dan

Refugium Questions 10/13/05 Hi once again, I have been looking up on a refugium, I was looking into the AquaFuge External Hang On Refugium, and I have a few questions. In my main tank there is 2 actinic blue and 2 actinic white fluorescents producing a total of about 6 watts per gallon on my 75 tank, since the refugium is hanging onto the back of the aquarium will it still need it's own lights, or will the lights on the main tank be enough (I know about the lighting the refugium at night thing but...$$$) <The light coming from your tank will be marginal for the refugium. Also, there is a lot of benefit from lighting the 'fuge while the tank lights are off. If you shop Wal-Mart or Home Depot type stores, you can find many choices of fairly inexpensive small compact fluorescent fixtures that will work well for a refugium.> Also my tank has a wet dry 125 gallon capacity and a sea world systems protein skimmer, My tank has been up and running for 3 weeks, is it too late for a refugium? ( I always thought it was never too late for a refugium!!) Also once I got the refugium set up, would it be wise to remove the bio balls from my wet dry. <It is never too late for a refugium! As long as you have at least 1lb per gallon of live rock, you can certainly remove the bio-balls from your wet/dry (independent of adding the 'fuge).> The hang on refugium states that it is 19 1/2 by 4 and 1/2 by 12 high (inches) how am I going to fit LR into that refugium, and if so, how much would you recommend. My intended use for the refugium is for all of its nutrients, pH, Nitrate, Nitrite, and Ammonia, the pods' would be fine too even though I don't plan on having a mandarin. I was looking into some assorted Caulerpa packs, but have since heard some conflicting stories about this macro, any suggestions on other types of good ol' macroalgae? <Many dealers will sell "Live Rock Rubble", and often at a discount. These small pieces will fit easily into that space. Do keep in mind that rock is not mandatory in the 'fuge. As for macro choices, Caulerpa is not so much of a problem in FO tanks as it is in reefs where it's noxious chemical defenses can stunt coral growth. It can still become invasive in the display though. Chaetomorpha is an all around better choice, if not quite as fast growing. Macros are available for free or for trade at most local marine aquarium society meetings.> Last question, I swear, since the refugium is a hang on the back, how could it be connected in any way to the main display, I don't exactly want a bunch of hoses in my main tank, do you know how these work? (sorry, I thought of another question) And other than the maintenance of cutting the macroalgae you put in there, are there any other maintenance issues involved with a refugium? <Connections will vary with the exact model, but ideally water should be pumped into the refugium and passively drain back into the tank to spare microcrustaceans a trip through the pump. That said, you may want to consider placing the fuge in/on your wet/dry where it and it's plumbing will be out of sight. Although this means a trip through a pump for the critters, this is a minor compromise. Unless you find that sediment and detritus is accumulating in the refugium, very little maintenance is required.> P.S. I plan on having a 6 or 7 " sand bed of Marine BioSediment, good brand? Thanks a million, Clare <I don't know anything about this brand, but any fine grained (sugar fine) calcium based substrate will work well. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Refugium Sand Bed - 09/04/05 Hi guys, keep on the good work. <<Hello>> I'm upgrading to 60 gallon tank with a refugium. What kind of sand bed that I should have in the refugium? <<Six inches of sugar-fine aragonite sand.>> Can I use some sea sand for more natural filtration? <<I wouldn't...too much risk of introducing pollutants/pathogens.>> Also I plan to enrich the refugium by adding some plants, small crabs or perhaps shrimp? <<A "single" specie of macro algae is fine...the crabs/shrimp defeat the purpose of the refugium.>> The size of the refugium is 30 gallon. Thank you in advance for your advice. <<Please have a look here and among the associated indices: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium1.htm Regards, EricR>>

DSB in small Refugium, what to do in main tank, and getting the tank going? 8/29/05 Hi WWM Crew, <Marc> The obligatory opening kudos to you all, because you truly are my lifeline in beginning in my adventure into a reef system. I have questions in 3 areas, but let me start with setup first: -72gal bowfront (48Lx20Hx12/18 deep) -55gal sump - 3 sections: skimmer and heaters -- baffles 17" high -- return -- baffles 16" high -- refugium) where the downspout is split into the 2 end sections so the flow through the refugium is slower. Plan to use refugium on RDP with Macro algae (going to use Chaetomorpha) -ASM G2 w/Sedra 3500 for skimmer -Mag 12 return (which is plenty because AGA tells me the Durso provided w/ my reef ready does about 600 GPH), return split into 2 rear corners with water coming in 4 inches above bottom of tank) <... this/these returns have check valves? I really don't like these arrangements... many, too many instances of "water on the floor". I strongly encourage you to re-route these discharges to above the water> -Mag 9.5 connected to a SeaSwirl on a closed loop system (thanks to Bob for helping me through taking the return on the "not-so-reef-ready" design and making it useful, it is now the start of my closed loop) <Welcome> -2x96 watt Actinic PC, 2x175 10K halogen Questions: 1) In the sump, the refugium portion is 12x12 and I have put a DSB of about 5 inches (2 inches of live sand, 3 inches of sugar fine aragonite). Is this DSB to small to give me the right denitrification effects given the overall size of the tank? <Would be better if it were larger for sure... at least twice this size> The return section is 17" long and I could add a small Rubbermaid container with another DSB, but I don't know if this will do anything. Should I Add it? <I would> BTW.. The return is made as long as it is because of what is likely high evaporation, and though I have auto top off, I travel regularly for 3-5 day stretches and while wife will feed fish, she doesn't want to mess with the water and I figured better safe then sorry. <I see> 2) This was all recently set-up and maybe I messed up on the order of things, but here is where I sit right now: Water mostly stabilized (more in next question), system running, DSB installed in refugium w/NO macro algae yet (put this in first, about a 1 week ago). Put first 75lbs of live rock in main tank today. Need to go back for more, will do so in 5 days. Main tank is currently bare bottom. I had planned on putting in about 1/2-1 inch of aragonite (Fiji pink) in the tank because I have a DSB in the refugium. I put the rock in before the sand because I was told that doing so after would leave me at risk of the sand shifting underneath the rock (maybe not a problem for such a thin layer) and making the rock slightly unstable. <No problem> I plan on adding about 25 lbs more of live rock to the main tank to build it a little high and put the "specimen" pieces in the small holes. I will then also add about 5 lbs of rubble to the refugium at the same time. | Should instead I consider a DSB in the main tank or is that overkill? <I'm a much bigger fan of remoting DSBs out of main/display tanks.... easier to manage, manipulate> I was planning on adding the thin sand bed by running it down a 3" PVC pipe, but figure if I am doing a DSB I should pull all the live rock put the bed in, and add the live rock back. <Can just pour in, swoosh about when in the tank...> If I did go with a DSB in the main tank would putting everything in in the same day be problematic because of the amount of particles/sand that could cover the rock? <Mmm, could be... IF you go with the DSB in your main tank, I would remove the LR, place the fine sand, let it sit for a few hours (keep the LR wet/damp) and re-place the LR when the water clears somewhat> I assume if also if I go with a DSB I really don't want to add any more rock the 75lbs I already have in (which I probably won't need anyhow because more rock was going to be added for height to cover the "mega-overflow" some more). Of course if you say yes to #1 above, I may be able to just go with a thin layer in the main tank. <This latter is what I would do> Finally, should I use LS for the thin sand bed or only if I go with a DSB? <Your new LR will make your substrates live... no need to buy> 3) Once I figure out #1&2 above, I have a pretty good idea how to treat the next few weeks. Test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrates, etc.. Check water quality alter as needed, add chemicals as need. As part of this process I was wondering: 1) when to add macro algae to refugium? <A month or so from now... when nitrate appears to be steadily accumulating> 2) Should I do water changes, or wait until ammonia and nitrite are zero (I'm not adding fish until the tank is fully cycled)? <... Please read re curing LR on WWM... I would change out a good proportion of the water if these exceed more than 2,3ppm...> 3) I noticed that after adding the original LS, the PH dropped drastically. I've been dosing the water to raise alkalinity before I added the live rock, and it seems my PH is steady right now at 8.2 (I will start using Kalkwasser to take it up higher after everything else seems to stabilize). Is this PH drop surprising? <No... common... to be expected... anaerobic and not decomposition, reductive/acidic> 4) Finally, I've noticed a few small "antipasta" on some of my live rock. <Yummy!> Should I hit them with Joe's juice now before the cycling is done, but starting the battle early so that I don't get may of them in my tank? <Oh, Aiptasia? I would wait a week or so...> 5) Lights, my live rock is high quality and has lots of coralline on it already, should I start running the lights soon, or wait for 2-3 weeks? <I would/do encourage lighting LR from the get-go> Thanks again, and sorry for all the questions, unfortunately I don't have any friends who have been through this before, and my LFS seems to be more interested in making a buck then giving me good guidance (I've already changed a bunch of things they recommended based on what I've read here) <You'd do well to read through some of the more recent "all in one" reef/marine aquarium books... Bob Fenner> Re: DSB in small Refugium, what to do in main tank, and getting the tank going? 8/31/05 Bob, <Marc> Thanks for your response to a long e-mail. I've done some research on the site and I've arrived at a 50% solution and was hoping for your advice on the other parts. Per my prior e-mail, my current sump is a 55gal that is broken up into 3 sections: skimmer and heaters 15" -- baffles 17" high -- return section 17" long -- baffles 16" high -- refugium 12 long; where the downspout is split into the 2 end sections (slow flow into refugium, about 50-75GPH). It makes sense that a 12x12 DSB will add value, but probably isn't enough. Here was my thought: Regular 1" sand bed in main tank. Add a 24" long true refugium (no baffles, entire tank just refugium). Have the water enter from the downspout (still split for slow water flow in the refugium) on the main tank and then have the outflow gravity feed into the sump. This 24" long (12 wide) section will have a DSB of sugar fine sand, LR, and Macroalgae, 1 or 2 types (unless that is a bad idea). <Some folks would say one, but likely two will work> This should give me nice DSB, and as the whole thing will be gravity run, low chance of failure and won't have to mess with multiple return pumps or cross pumping. Given that, I have some options for the existing sump. Take the current 12x12 section and keep it a DSB (which has only been up a week, so I won't lose much), make it coarse sand and rubble rock for growth of 'pods (still would have low flow rate), or turn it into a miracle mud and put in Caulerpa (though I know you advise against it, but it seems that it is the right macroalgae for miracle mud, unless there is another macroalgae that works with well with mud). <Mmm, most all will "work" with mud substrates... that is to say, the mud/muck will benefit their growth> I would have the new 'fuge drain into the old 12x12 sump based fuge. But I've also read that miracle mud can take higher flow rates so I could make the center 17" section that has the higher flow rate (around 550PGPH) from the PS/heater section miracle mud, and then make the far end (12x12) section the return section, where the new refugium would drain into. <Mmm, make the flow rate over the mud adjustable...> (BTW, I've decided to add a Tunze top off system from a storage bucket so no fear of needing the larger return section for when I go on 3-5 day trips). Thoughts? I definitely want the NNR effect of the DSB, and more seems better, but am torn by the positive stability effects of miracle mud, and the prospect of a healthy 'pod growing section as I'm planning on a Goby. Best, Marc <All reads like a work-able plan, improvement over the previous. Bob Fenner>

Rubble Rock 8/2/05 I am in the final stages of setting up my 180 gallon FOWLR tank and saw rubble rock at a local aquarium store. I was thinking this would possibly be good to put in a refugium, What are your thoughts. If you feel it a good idea can you give me recommendations on how thick the layer should be, lighting, circulation, etc. - D'Wayne <Hi D'Wayne! Thanks for your inquiry, regarding the rubble rock - it would be just fine to use in your refugium. Keeping a fine grain 3-6" sandbed in the fuge and/or several pounds of rubble live rock is all you need. Depending on your set-up goals, lighting can be used or deleted from the set-up all together. Please feel free to do a search regarding refugium set-ups here. Tons of info, you'll be pleased D'Wayne... - Ali>

Substrate sand size Hi guys (and/or gals)! For a 10 gallon inline refugium for my 40 gallon tank, what substrate would you recommend for best species diversity support. << CaribSea crushed coral. >> I have read on your site that certain amphipods prefer larger sized substrate, while copepods, et al. prefer sugar sized. Would I be able to achieve the best of both worlds, by placing a small 2-3 inch high divider in the middle of the refugium across the bottom with fine substrate on one side, and coarse on the other, or would it be better to stay with one or the other? << Better to put a thin layer of fine sand (one inch) then on top of it put a layer of crushed coral (two inches). This is the new popular way to go. >> Your thoughts? Thanks a ton. Blair Miller << Blundell >> Refugium substrate? Dear crew, I hope the holiday season finds you doing well. I am setting up a sump/refugium for my 100 gallon in a 20 gal. long glass aquarium. I have it separated into 3 sections with the middle for a refugium (Macros/live rock rubble). I have read in great detail all of the options and opinions for creating the best refugium and I am now ready to act. At this point I am leaning toward a 2 -3 inch sugar sand base with a 1 inch crushed coral layer on top (per Blundell threads). I am concerned that the flow (500-600 gph) <Likely no problem> will continuously disrupt the fine sand base. Will this be effective for Nitrate reduction or do I really need the DSB for this purpose? <One inch of any size/grade substrate will not do much for denitrification> Can I get an added benefit from added Mud to this type of system? <Yes> Is it even reasonable to consider adding mud with a fine sand base? <Yes... though much more to say... best to assemble all, try out the given arrangement, and see what adding substrates does here... you may well need to adjust water flow to accommodate slow to more brisk flow functions here.> Thanks. You guys are great and very patient. Happy New Year!! Nick <Am hopeful 05 will see improvement. Bob Fenner>

Substrate for refugium 5/24/04 Hello, I have been reading your site for a while now and I must say it is very good. <Thanks! Glad you have benefited.> I am planning on setting up a 33gal ecosystem type refugium for a new 77gal aquarium. I'm not sold on miracle mud, mainly the high price and their lack of scientific support (heard it may be dirt with trace elements added), but I want to have a mud style system for the macro I plan to grow. <There is no argument that the EcoSystem method works, but I agree that there is no solid support for why and no evidence that it is superior to a simple refugium with a fine grained aragonite substrate.> What are your thoughts for the substrate in a refugium? Should/can I use sugar sand and if I do what are the pros/cons. <You certainly can, but it depends on your goal. Fine substrates are superior for denitrification and for the growth of certain worms. Coarser substrates (like crushed coral 3-5mm and larger) have the potential to trap detritus, but are better for the cultivation of amphipods, copepods and mysids as well as tiny brittle stars.> Should I purchase live sand such as GARF Grunge, kind of pricey but seeded with lots of life. <Perhaps, but obtaining small quantities of live sand from fellow aquarists will work just as well and is much more cost effective.> Should I go with aquaculture soil and seed it with a live sand replenishing kit. <I'm not sure what aquaculture soil is, but I would avoid any terrestrial soils and stick to widely used marine substrates like aragonite.> Is there anything else that I should consider? Thanks in advance. Ricardo. <Just be sure to decide what your primary goal is and then customize the environment to achieve that goal. See my comments above about substrates and go from there. Hope this helps! Adam>

Controversial Topics (Sandbed Depth And Caulerpa Use) Hello, <Hi! Scott F. here> I have read through much of the site but still have some questions. First I will tell you what I have--the contents of the tank have been together--Ecosystem aside--for about 1.5 years in a 100 gal tank: My set up is this (for about 6 weeks--I took all the water/sand/rock from the 100gal tank): 60 gal tank 100 lbs. live rock 3-4 inch DSB (fine-medium grain size sand--although more medium than fine) Ecosystem 40 refugium with miracle mud and healthy Chaetomorpha, red tang heaven, and Ulva and lots o pods/snails AquaC Remora HOT 280 watt PC lighting (soon to add another 110 watts) Pacific Tang, Maroon Clownfish in love with his Condylactis anemone, Firefish, Royal Gramma, Rock Blenny, Purple Lobster, two hermits and soon to be removed (although cute) Spotted Puffer as well as one sea anemone. I would like to make my tank non-predator and ready to eventually contain some corals (ergo adieu to the sweet puffer). <And the anemones, too!> I inherited the contents of the tank from a friend and bought the skimmer, and refugium (although the Ecosystem 40 is for a 40 gal I figured it is better to have a small one than none at all at this point--and space is a constraint esp. with a somewhat reluctant spouse who 'doesn't care much for fish' I'm trying to keep it all as inconspicuous as possible). Everyone seems very happy and all the fish responded very well to the addition of the refugium last week (swimming all around the water return...and the normally shy gamma came out and is now all over the tank). No water problems so far. Questions: 1. I currently have the 3-4 inches of sand with the rock resting on top in the tank. The sand is different levels due to the two water pumps I put in--they've blown it around a little (I actually think this looks better than flat sand all the way across). <Me, too!> The manual to the Ecosystem refugium says that I shouldn't have a deep sand bed. My LFS says that that I should have put the rocks on the bottom of the tank, and then filled the tank with sand (three inches) and eventually the sand would settle into the rock. Should I remove some sand? Should I try to put the rocks on the bare tank bottom and add sand like my LFS says? <6 of one, half-dozen of another...I'd keep the sandbed 3-4 inches, and be done with it...> Will the DSB in my tank disrupt the refugium system? <I can't imagine what it would> I would rather have less sand in my main tank but initially put it all in there since I thought a DSB would be fine (I got it all from my friend with a 100 gal)--also...is it a problem that my DSB sand is not all fine grain but more small-medium grain pieces ( read on your site that fine sand is best for DSB)? <Well, fine grain is best, but it is certainly acceptable (IMO) to have some larger-grade pieces mixed in. Looks better, too! Do read some of the works of Dr. Ronald Shimek on sandbed composition. Lots of opinions on this topic.> I have noticed that after a month the sand layer is whiter on top to the depth of 1.5 inches. Should I simply have one-two inches of sand in the tank since that seems to be the amount of sand that is getting good circulation??? <A lot of the conventional wisdom on sand beds dictates a deeper layer. Two inches may be too deep to be fully aerobic, but too shallow to foster complete denitrification. Again, there are a lot of opinions on this, and new data is coming in all the time. However, I'd stick with the tried and true for now: A sandbed should be 3 inches or more, or 1/2" or less!> If I need to take out sand and re-do the sand/rock would it behoove me to elevate the rock on a PVC/eggcrate setup for better circulation? <Can't hurt- but it's not 100% necessary. I'd personally try to leave as much surface area open as possible. You could elevate the rock or stack it to accomplish this> I really want to do what is best for the long-term/benefit of the organisms. <Agreed! That should be your goal!> 2. Should I add Caulerpa to the refugium? I have read pros and cons. I want minimal hassle and am worried the 'sexual life of Caulerpa' will be too burdensome. But do the benefits outweigh the bother, or will I be fine with what I have? <I like and use Chaetomorpha, myself. It grows, it's an excellent "substrate" for planktonic/amphipod growth, doesn't go "sexual", can be easily harvested, and it's fun to give away to your friends (Everyone wants this stuff at the Club "Frag Swap"! Let everyone else offer their "Blue Torts"- Everyone wants my "Chaeto!"> Thanks for your help--it is very overwhelming and time consuming trying to learn all of this and I appreciate all the time your crew dedicates towards helping people like myself (so hopefully in turn I can help others!). Saskia <MY pleasure, Saskia! That's what we're all about! Sharing this hobby that we all love so much! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Sump/refugium/deep sand bed - confusion I have been reading many of your FAQs and doing a lot of internet research over the past couple of months. <Research is the best thing anyone can do for a reef tank. Kudos for taking the time to look it all over.> We set up our FOWLR tank 15 months ago and are now wanting to upgrade to a reef tank. Current setup: 77 gal AGA Fluval 404 canister filter Seaclone skimmer 4x96W fluorescent light 2 powerheads approx. 30 lbs live rock 2" live sand/crushed coral bed <Well, the Seaclone skimmers aren't the best on the market, but it does get the job done. If you are going to do light loving corals and things like clams you will need some lights that are much more powerful than that. Check out of the Lighting section on Wetwebmedia.com to learn more about what sort of lighting you will need for the corals you wish to keep. I myself like a bit more live rock in my tank, one to two pounds per gallon. But that is all up to personal taste. If you feel that 30lbs is enough then that sounds fine. As for the sand bed, With larger tanks many reefers are finding Deep Sand Beds to be very beneficial to the overall well being of their tank. I myself use sand beds, and skip the crushed coral. My findings were that large crushed coral has lots of dead spaces for food and waste to rot in. The sugar grain sized sand in my tank not only looks nice it also offers a low oxygen area for the beneficial bacteria to break down the ammonia.> What I would like to do is get rid of the filter and plumb in a sump so that skimmer and heater etc. can be hidden. <Very good plan, tank looks so much more natural without all the extra stuff hanging in the tank.> I understand from your site that the Seaclone skimmer isn't very effective and plan to buy a new one (am thinking about the Aqua C EV180). <A nice skimmer, a friend purchased one recently and he hasn't had any complaints.> First question - is the 4x96 light strip going to be ok to keep low to med light corals (tank is 20" deep)? <Depending on the bulbs you use, and how often you replace them then there are a some low light corals and mushrooms that would do quite well in lighting like that. Other corals you might need to feed more often to balance of the amount of light.> I also plan to add 40-50 lbs additional live rock and create a 4" DSB in the main tank. My purposes for this would be NNR and phosphate reduction. <This is why it pays for me to read the emails prior to answering them. I had addressed the issues above. More rock is good, and DSB are great!> I am currently battling a hair algae problem which I am fairly certain is due to high PO4 due to a lazy maintenance schedule (nitrite is 0 and nitrate less than 10). <Getting a bit lazy with tanks will lead to some outbreaks of some weird stuff. Luckily it was hair algae, which can be eaten by many clean up critters (Turbo snails being a big one). I did a 40% water change 2 weeks ago, and another 25% change last week and plan to continue on a 5-10% weekly water change using RO/DI water. <Good plan.> My test kit only does PH/Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate but plan to buy a better kit. <having a better kit will definitely assure that you will know much more about your tanks well being. For corals you will want to know the Calcium and Alkalinity levels.> I am confused as to how to accomplish NNR - so much conflicting advice. <Simply put, by having a deep enough sand bed, which should be around 5 inches, you will have a low oxygen area and should offer a great area for the bacteria to grow and do their work. There are a few good articles in our articles section here on WetWebMedia. And I also suggest checking out the Forums here as well. You will meet a few folks that really know there stuff about NNR.> Does what I am planning sound workable? <To me it sounds quite workable. I've known people have impressive reef tanks with much less.> I don't have much space under the tank and want components hidden as tank is in living room, so would have to pick either a sump or a refugium. I am leaning towards a sump as the refugium would never be seen under there and I would have to find yet another outlet to plug a light into. Basically I need a simple but effective filtration method. I plan to keep my current tank inhabitants (lawnmower blenny, firefish goby, blue damsel, 2 BBT anemones, blue band goby, and canary wrasse) and add some corals like torch coral, mushroom, xenia, easier LPS. <Bubble Tip Anemones are more delicate than any of the other corals you will be adding to this tank. I would do some research into what they need in order to thrive. Anemones really don't have a great track record in people's tanks. In fact somewhere between 80-90% of Anemones imported in die in home aquariums due to poor tank conditions.> Do I need a refugium in addition to a DSB for effective filtration? <Adding a refugium will be beneficial to the tank in general. It's not a needed thing in the grand scheme of things with use with DSBs. But, a refugium will over a larger volume of water, since the depth of the sand bed will remove the effective water volume from the tank.> Thanks for any advice you can offer. Barbara Ottley <Hope that helps. Good luck, and keep up the research. I suggest you also look at getting the book "The conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert Fenner. It's a great book and will give you a great deal of knowledge of the subject. -Magnus>

Macroalgae and DSBs 11/2/03 Hi, I am looking to add macro algae to a new sump. Can you tell me the best kind to use? <that depends on many factors... but Chaetomorpha (Spaghetti algae) is hands down one of the best overall. Gracilaria is also quite good. Avoid Caulerpa in my opinion. See about all and why in the FAQs and archives of our site at wetwebmedia.com> I thought about mixing a few kinds together, but I read one response in a reef forum, and it said that you can make a mistake adding different types of algae together (maybe Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha?... <all algae fight (allelopathy) and one will ultimately succeed all at the expense of considerable energies. Pick only one species per tank> I don't remember for sure). They actually compete against each other and can become toxic. <yes... to each other, to invertebrates... and even to some fishes> I didn't know mixing macro algae could do that. That's not what I had in mind to do :-) This response also said the grape Caulerpa being one of the most noxious of all of the algae. Is that true? <very true by a remarkable scale of magnitude> I thought it was a good kind to have? <Caulerpa can be a boon or scourge. I dissuade folks from it because it is too labor intensive for most folks> The response also talked about macro algae going 'asexual' and becoming toxic. What does this mean? I have never heard of this either. <please do a keyword search of this topic and any other that interests you with the google search tool from our home page at www.wetwebmedia.com and all will be revealed to you my friend> Secondly, I read in another forum where a lot of reefers were talking about having reef tanks with bare bottoms (either no sandbed at all or a very small sandbed. They ripped deep sand beds talking about DSB crashes and really messing up tanks. <removing DSBs is a knee-jerk reaction by aquarists that have improperly installed them or have poor tank husbandry overall (usually inadequate water flow). We explain this dynamic at great length (tens of pages) in our book "Reef Invertebrates"> I have never heard of this and have never thought of having a tank with no sand at all. Everything I have ever read talks about live sand being a very important part of biological filtration. <agreed... there are tremendous benefits to live sand and rock methods> I am confused. <just need to read/research more my friend... and not so much from message boards with much opinion and inexperience (or limited experience) but from tenured and objective sources/authors> Can you tell me your take on having deep, medium, shallow, or no sandbeds? <I wish to help here my fried... but a proper answer cannot be relayed in an e-mail less than 20 pages! Please do simply read through our archives or if you feel frisky, that new book of hours is months old and covers all of these topics at great length. The most comprehensive in the industry to date> Thanks, Paul <best regards, Anthony Calfo>?

Refugium + Bio Balls Necessary? I've been researching setting up a marine aquarium for a few months now as I gather up the funds to start diving into the hobby.<I/We here at WWM admire people who research before just "diving" into this hobby, good job> I'm fascinated and excited by the hobby and can't wait to jump in. At the same time I'm intimidated and confused and wonder when and if I'll ever be fully ready to get started.<you will, don't worry> I plan on starting up a 110 gallon tank, with a refugium sump underneath the tank followed by a protein skimmer before the water is pumped back up into the tank.<sounds good> My question is a simple one, is it beneficial to have bioballs prior to the water dropping into the refugium? Or does the refugium completely eliminate the need for bio balls? <the refugium will eliminate the need for bio-balls. I would purchase some nice LR for your main tank and for your sump. Your gravel. sand/aragonite, LR and your refugium will provide the biological filtration for your aquarium. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bioballfaqs.htm-this link should help IanB> Thanks! Gregan Adding Mud to Refugium Hey guys, one more question. My new refugium and miracle mud just arrived. I plan to add the mud in the fuge to my established reef. How would you recommend I make the introduction? Will the addition of mud cause an ammonia spike? Thanks again, Adam <Hi Adam, I would isolate the refugium from the main, add the mud, run separately until it settles, then run as part of main system. I doubt there is any ammonia or nitrogen products in Miracle Mud, so it is unlikely, but the sediment could/would be a problem. Take it slow and easy! Craig>

Substrate for Refugium - 2/12/03 Hi at Wet Web, <cheers, my friend> I'm adding a refugium to one of my reef systems and am planning to use CaribSea's live reef sand. <I'm quite certain that any/all so-called "live sand" in a bag products are a poor value. Dry live sand will meet their "potential" in mere days, proven time and again. Buy the cheapest dry aragonite you can find (like Southdown sand at Home Depot). Its all literally the same> How deep a bed do you recommend, <over 3" (pref 4-6") for goof denitrification> and do you have an opinion on the CaribSea live sand? <save your money and buy their dry sand or anybody else's :) > Many thanks, Peggy <best regards, Anthony>

New Refuge Happy January 26th to ALL. <and a SUPER day to you too bud :) > I want to add some coarser substrate to the sugar fine sand in a new refuge. <hmmm... mixing media is usually challenging if not problematic. What's the reasoning bud?> I can get crushed oyster shells (used to supplement baby chick food) in bulk. Would this be ok in a refuge? <beyond issues of combination from oyster shell (for how low on the run g they are), they are calcite and useless for bio-mineral supplementation/buffering. It can be useful for cultivating micro-crustaceans. If abused though (too low flow) it becomes a wicked detritus trap. My recommendation is to stick wholly with fine sand if NNR is your goal or wholly with oyster shell if you want zooplankters more and are willing to add buffer to compensate> Thanks Don <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Refugium Questions Thank you. 2 more questions. Should I use all live sand? <actually... all dry sand inoculated with a handful of live will be fine> And how strong of a flow should I have? <depends on the creatures kept, but around 10x here is likely in the ballpark. Anthony>

Re: New Refuge Thanks Anthony, I was looking for both NNR (fine sand) and critter growth (coarser oyster shell) it is a 20H so maybe 14-18" of fine sand and an inch or so on top of the other 6-10" of fine sand. <I would simply never recommend mixing sand. Go fine DSB and enjoy better plankter growth from spaghetti algae in the tank... or if the fuge is unlit- suspended strands of polyester filter pad. Great for growing pods in a hidden 'fuge or sump> I certainly don't need any more detritus!!!! <indeed... resist the course sand> I am planning a couple piece of LR in the refuge, <OK... not too much though> maybe making a couple rubble piles would be more effective than the oyster shell? <ahhh... neither. Again, fibrous mats or course wiry algae grow bugs better by far> (I saw the fine sand/oyster shell mix discussed on WWF forums.) <interesting. Possible but laborious. A hokey compromise to me> Maybe I should just experiment a little to see what works for me. Can always give the crushed oyster shell back to my uncle ;) Don <experimenting is cool... do let us know how it fares in time. Kindly, Anthony>

Refugium Substrate Questions Hi folks, <Scott F. with you tonight> I am going to be upgrading my 4 yr old reef tank (55G w/hang-on filter) to a 75G w/30G sump/refugium. I plan to seed the refugium with some of the seasoned crushed coral/aragonite mix from the old tank. What substrate(s) & depths would you suggest for the tank & sump, for best biological filtration? None of the inhabitants require anything out of the ordinary. <You can use a course substrate if you're trying to cultivate amphipods, medium for copepods, a deep, fine substrate for enhanced denitrification> Even though I am transferring water & live rock & corals into the new system, will the tank "cycle" due to new substrate in the main tank? <In all likelihood, yes. Do test ammonia/nitrite for a week or two before adding new inhabitants> I am planning on weekly 10% water changes, siphoned from the main tank gravel only, never touching the gravel in the refugium. Is this the correct approach?<if you have a fairly deep sand bed (greater than 3 inches), you really should not disturb the sand bed in the main tank. Ditto for the refugium. You don't want to disrupt the nitrifying processes occurring in the sand bed(s)> Thanks to whichever of you is kind enough to answer, and special thanks to Bob for TCMA. Could you please write similar guides to finance, parenting, and car repair? ;-) Scott <How about it, Bob!><<Easily done. Bob F.>>

Live rock/substrate and Refugiums I've been reading your FAQs, and as a newcomer to the hobby, they have helped tremendously. <very good to hear! Welcome to the hobby, our site and life at large> I have 2 very different questions: 1)I have read the refugium FAQs, and seen a few pictures on the site, but I am still somewhat confused on their setup. <no worries... they are simple features to install and have many possible applications/places in the system> Is the refugium supplied by overflow from the sump, and a small pump puts the water back into the sump? <no, my friend. Refugiums are usually and best tapped inline: flow-through... either catching water from the return pump is the refugium ('fuge) is upstream (above the display) and overflowing down to the main tank...OR...it catches water from the overflow, before overflowing itself further down the line (this is a "downstream" application) to the sump. In either case, there is only one sump, and one return pump on the sump. You are simply tapping this refugium inline on the way down or way up from water making the sump loop> From what I read, water is only pumped back into the sump, not into the refugium. <water is never pumped into the sump. By definition, a sump is the lowest, downstream gravity-fed vessel. It would, in fact, be dangerous to both gravity feed and pump water into a sump> So if I wished to add a refugium to my system, I would have to join the current sump with the refugium at the water level? <much simpler, my friend. Your sump vessel can be placed under the tank with a drilled overflow hole that sits slightly higher than the top of the sump. The water from above drains into it and then overflows down to the sump next to and slightly lower than the refugium. on new sump installations (if the sump is large enough) you can instead seal a high dam/partition into one side of the sump to act as a refugium. It will catch all raw water first then overflow into the lower portion. These are both downstream, refugiums. Better yet for plankton culture (no pump shear) is an upstream refugium placed on a shelf just above the main display, fed by the sump pump and overflowing into the main tank> Perhaps I am just very confused. 2) In my current fish only tank, I have between 1/4" and 1/2" of crushed coral substrate. <OK... but not ideal... course media traps detritus and causes algae blooms (among other things) unless you clean this gravel aggressively and often or have massive water flow in the tank> If I was to add live rock, would organisms eventually move into the substrate? <some yes... not much though... too course and too shallow for a substrate> I know they probably would with fine sand, but I'm not sure if the crushed coral is suitable for them. Thanks for all the help! Jim <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Muddy Issue Hi WWM Crew, <Scott F. here tonight> Your site is really great and is a constant source of information to me. The tank I have is a three months old 80G tank with a 25G refugium. The refugium is having 2 inches of sand (not the live one), a few live rocks and is growing Caulerpa. I'm wondering if it makes any sense to add Miracle Mud on top of the sand to make the sand bed an inch more. Is the mixing use of normal sand and miracle mud OK? Thanks a lot. Manus <Well Manus, you certainly raise some interesting questions. The "Mud" concept is reliant on the growth and regular harvest of the macroalgae. A more "traditional" refugium is really meant as a place where various animals (i.e.; amphipods, mysids, and other creatures (including plankton, and even larval fish) can grow and reproduce without predators and other hazards. So- it really depends on what your primary goals are: to use the system as a natural filter, or to simply have the refugium as an extra source of biodiversity and natural food production. Yes, you can grow macroalgae in a refugium, and yes, you can grow amphipods in a "Miracle Mud" filter, but I would either use all aragonite sand (by the way, your sand will eventually become quite "live" in the refugium), or all "Miracle Mud". Do read more about these systems in the resources on wetwebmedia.com. hope this helps!>

Sand bed Hello, <Hi there> I have recently found your website, and I find myself on here everyday. I find myself totally immersed on your website. <Mmm, soon you'll be answering queries!> I have just purchased my 55 gallon fish tank and a 30 gallon fish tank for my sump. I plan on purchasing a ~20 gallon Rubbermaid container for my refugium. Would it be okay to add a deep sand bed in the refugium (~4in) with live rock and add only 1 in of sand bed for the 55 gallon tank? <Yes> And approximately how much water should flow through this refugium? <A few... 2-3 turns per hour is about ideal) Thank you for your time. <You're welcome. Bob Fenner> Dave

Refugium substrate Hi again gentleman, <<And hello again to you.>> wanted to thank you (JasonC) for your speedy and informative response about changing the depth of my sand bed and refugium stuff. You guys have been nominated by me for sainthood. <<Now it's on to the Pope...>> I have been doing a little research and decided to go with a refugium for my 80 gal. My question lies in the substrate. The guy at the LFS swears by the "miracle mud" but I expressed my concern of putting this substance into my system when really I'm not sure of the chemical make-up (am I really that paranoid and uninformed). <<No need to fear... many aquarists use this stuff and have a great deal of success. Many people swear by it, very few swear at it.>> What I've noticed from other sources is the reference to deep sand beds in refugiums. Have I managed to confuse my info? <<No... they are two different approaches, and a DSB in a refugium is of limited use unless the refugium is an actual second tank... there's just not enough surface area in the sand bed.>> He mentioned that some of the trace elements in the mud keep the Caulerpa from going into it's reproductive state and making a slimy mess of my refugium, which I would be destined for by using sand in a matter of months. <<Actually, Miracle Mud is part of the Ecosystem Aquarium developed by Leng Sy, one of the sponsors of WetWebMedia. Leng's system includes lighting the refugium 24/7 which is actually what stops the Caulerpa from going sexual. You might want to check out their website - http://www.ecosystemaquarium.com/ >> What is your take on the more beneficial of the two? <<It's all about your wallet - it's hard to say which would be 'more' beneficial - they are both equally valid methods.>> Thank you again, Dominic <<Cheers, J -- >>

Sump and SBD refugium Bob & Anthony: <cheers, my friend> thanks for your answer, I will use the passive carbon method in the sump, maybe in the pump return area (???). <agreed> In my actual sump I have 2 pounds of Bioglass and 5 pounds of crushed coral. My tank is a 200 ltrs and in the main area I have 35 ponds of life rock. What can I do with this material (bio glass and crushed coral), if I take it away, I presume, the biological filter will suffer...as well my few fish and inverts. How can I perform the switch between my old sump and my new with DSB, safely. <leaving the media in but submerged and passive it will contribute to plankton culture without contributing significantly to nitrates> Greetings, Carlos <best regards, Anthony>

Refugium Substrate / Water Level Hi Bob, I've picked up the refugium to place under my 300 live rock reef tank. It is 20 gallons and is 16" high. The substrate will be live sand. I want to grow macro algae. I would like your opinion -- How high / deep do you think the substrate should be? <I would just use some low lying live rock... this sump/is quite small to have both this and a substrate/gravel> How high do you think the water level should be? <Not very... Do "practice" turning off the power with whatever mechanism you have for moving water into/out of the refugium... to make sure it won't overflow/flood onto the floor... Maybe start with the system with filled up with near the top, turn the pump on, and see how low the water gets... this is AS FAR as you want to fill the tank... Bob Fenner> Thanks! Dale.

Refugium, Deep Sand Bed, and Diving. Hi Bob, Maybe you can enlighten me on a couple of things. I have a 90 reef tank mostly LPS and SPS with about 220 gallons total system water. I set up a separate plenum refugium in an old 70 gal. (48"x18") about 2 months ago. I followed your illustration and info on wetwebmedia.com, lots of great help from the FAQ. I have a problem, I bought too much substrate (CaribSea "special seafloor grade. 1mm dia.) What I would like to do is add this gravel to my display tank that has about 1" crushed coral already in it. Not to the whole tank, but around the front, sides, etc. I don't want to take everything out and start over. Too much work. But with the added substrate I could make a deep sand bed about 4-5" deep about 6" wide (between the front glass and the LR.) Is this a good idea? <Mmm, maybe... you realize it will all be getting mixed together... about the same depth... over time> I can't seem to find any info on people experiencing with a deep sand bed AND a plenum. Your insight would be much appreciated. <Both can work together... better than one apart from the other IMO/E> On a side note, I just got certified PADI and I'm leaving for the Cayman Islands next week for a week of dives. :) You have any "favorite spots" I should check out? <There are so many... will you just be on Grand Cayman? Do you intend to just use one dive agency? You only have a week... the place isn't all that big, but IS huge underwater... I'd just go, trust the local folks who are showing you about... There's not too great a variability in the biological make-up (nor much in the topography) all about the island. Hopefully you are intending to make photos... Oh, and do read over about the Caymans on the Web. A very popular dive/travel location.> It would be a nice and educational change to see reef creatures in their natural environment. <Definitely> Keep up the fantastic website! Any plans for a new book? <Always working on such. Next... a Pond Pocket Guide! Don't groan. Things could be worse... be chatting, Bob Fenner> Brad Stefanko

A couple quick questions... I'm using a Rubbermaid 40 gallon container as a sump. I want to fill the bottom 3" of it with live sand as a deep sand bed. I have two questions. Will this be enough to help reduce nitrates? <Yes> Is 3" enough? Considering sand costs money, should I do 4"? <Could use just a bit (ten-twenty percent of "live") and mix with non-live coral sand... will do about same> Can/should I put some starfish in there for minor sand sifting? I've always wanted starfish, but my stronger liking for triggers/puffers has prevented this. <Sure> Is there any reason to have a fluorescent light on over the sump? <All sorts... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the links, FAQs beyond. Bob Fenner> Thanks as always. - Eugene

LS in my sump I left out an important piece of info from my first email. The main tank is a 100G with 80lbs. live rock, fish only. <Okay. Same responses. Bob Fenner> - Eugene

Refugium substrate... Bob- Thanks for the great web site! I try to check it out everyday and have learned a lot. <Thank you, and so much more to load on it...> I've searched your site and can't find an answer to my questions. I am going to be upgrading my sump and adding a refugium and want to know how deep and what type of substrate to use. <Mmmm, actually either "none" or "quite a bit" as in a purposeful denitrator, interstitial fauna incubator...> I thought about using the 'Miracle Mud', but, the price is way to high. <Agreed... Please send Leng Sy a note about this... I do continuously> I thought I had read somewhere that you could use sand form Home Depot as long as it was non silica. <Yep, the folks at HD have a crushed coral Kiddy Pool sand that's very similar to Florida-sourced commercial products... not all locations have it, can be special ordered... by the pallet...> A LFS said no you can't use that sand. As a local San Diegan, why couldn't I just go down to Mission Beach and pick up a bucket of sand and after sifting out the cigarette butts, beer cans, pieces of old wetsuits and other misc. stuff, use that? <Hmm, good tongue in cheek question... not really useful in a number of other ways... too much silicate, too two-dimensional... I wouldn't/don't use it... and live in San Diego BTW> What type of substrate would you recommend? I plan on growing Caulerpa and adding some LR in the sump. thanks for your help. <I would use none... but not vacuum out the detritus that accumulates either... If you choose to utilize a solid substrate, please read over the "marine substrate" section of the marine index of the www.wetwebmedia.com site... And are you going on the "tank tour" this Saturday to Orange County... vis a vis the local marine club?> Andy <Bob Fenner>

Re: Question regarding w/d use as refugium Hello, Mr. Fenner, <Howdy> And thank you for the quick response! <You're welcome> I have started this refugium project, and realize that I do indeed have a few things confusing me. heheheh- I thought I had it all figured out. <Don't know anyone who does... including myself> I read somewhere online that using play sand (sand for sandboxes, etc) is okay for a project such as this. Is this true? <Well... actually only a few types are advisable... you likely want to avoid the ones that are silicates... and use one that is carbonaceous (made of calcium carbonate) of all about the same grade...> I bought a 50 lb bag today for under two bucks, then before I added it starting thinking... just what's IN this stuff? <Question of the hour> Another thing- I went to purchase the PC lighting today (would you believe that Home Depot had NO PC fixtures that aren't for outdoor/motion sensor applications?), and I realized that I had utterly no idea what kind of wattage I'm looking for. I'm looking to light my sump, which is at most 10-12 gallons. And it's only 1/3 full at any given point, so I am thinking that 60 watts of light may be serious overkill on this. What would you recommend? <Sixty watts would likely be okay...> I think that's about it for now. I truly appreciate the help. /john <Be chatting my friend.

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